International Year of Chemistry, 2011

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Hands-on chemistry - manipulating molecules using virtual reality and molecular modeling

Idea by Marc Baaden   |   added on Dec 08, 2009 04:50PM Suggestion Suggestion
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Use easily accessible virtual reality applications to make the audience "feel" how molecules behave in complex biological systems asuch as enzymes, membranes and viruses.

Haptic devices connected to molecular simulations allow a user to "touch" and deform molecules on the screen. With properly selected molecules, this is a very useful and insightful experience. One can for instance probe enzyme gymnastics by carrying out movements necessary for the enzymatic function. Membrane systems are also a nice playground, where one can for example compare the ease of moving water molecules, lipids and trans-membrane helices around. Another exciting application is the deformation of virus shells. All these tasks are easily carried out by a non specialist and are very intuitive, providing some basic ideas about these molecules.

Some demo movies and additional information can be found at and A recent publication describes this approach, although it is more focused on applications to research and not so much on the public (O. Delalande, N. Férey, G. Grasseau and M. Baaden : "Complex Molecular Assemblies at hand via Interactive Simulations", Journal of Computational Chemistry 30, 2009, 2375-2387).

Topic: hands-on activities Audience: general public, students


Albert Ahatov
Apr 16, 2010 08:14AM

movies are interesting

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