The use of 3D stereoscopic techniques for structural data visualization


M. Hušák, J. Rohlíček, 


Department of Solid State Chemistry, Institute of Chemical Technology Prague, Technická 5, CZ 166 28 Prague


The use of different 3D stereoscopic methods for visualization data from structural-biology area was already discussed in following article [1]. The same methods are suitable for better understanding of structure of small organic and inorganic molecules as well.

Stereoscopic visualization can generally help with following tasks: better manual interpretation of electron-density maps, better understanding of structure-activity relations or it can serve as attractive form of data and results presentation.

The key principle of 3D stereoscopic visualization is to show to different human eye different image. In such situation the observer will see the object rely in 3D space, not as a flat 2D object. There exist several technical methods suitable for this purpose: active stereoscopic visualization based on CRT or DLP devices and so cooled shutter glasses, projection based on polarized light or visualization based on a special monitor emitting different view in different direction. Illustrative description of the mentioned methods could be found here [2].

In addition to a special HW, it is necessary to have software supporting some of the mentioned stereoscopic visualization. Such support I usually done through standard OpenGL stereoscopic commands giving automatically output for different visualization methods mentioned above. From commercial codes the stereo support is build in DS Viewer Pro [3]. The code supports visualization of both big biologically interesting molecules, small organic molecules or inorganic structures. MCE code (developed by us) is an example of freely available program with full stereoscopic output support [4]. The latest MCE version can show by stereoscopic methods not only molecules, but also the bigger part of the crystals generated by symmetry operations, electron density maps as well as other force field maps.


1.     M. Hušák, Materials Structure, 12 (2005) 16.

2.     GALI-3D company www:

3.     Accelrys company www:

4.     M. Hušák, B. Kratochvíl, J. Appl. Crys., 36 (2003) 1104.