Click, Zoom, Explore: Interactive 3D (i-3D) Figures in Standard Teaching Materials (PDFs)

Sourav Chatterjee, Sooyeon Moon, Amanda Rowlands, Fred Chin, Peter H. Seeberger, Nabyl Merbouh, Kerry Gilmore

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (SciVal)


While chemistry exists in three dimensions, it is presented in two. This down-conversion results in a significant loss in information and often necessitates multiple images/figures to convey the complexity, intricacy, and beauty of a given structure. Currently, three-dimensional models are built to allow students to interact with molecules. However, model building for students is time-consuming, has the potential for error, and requires the purchase of a model kit. Outlined herein is a concise, straightforward method for incorporating interactive three-dimensional (i-3D) figures into teaching aids in PDF format. These figures can be generated from a variety of sources and allow for structures, molecular orbitals, unit cells and crystal lattices, as well as biopolymers to be presented in the same information-rich format as they are created. These images can be seen and interacted with by anyone reading the file in the standard PDF software (Adobe Reader). It is time for chemical education to take advantage of the digital age.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3470-3475
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Chemical Education
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 9 Nov 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors would like to thank the Simon Fraser University Dean of Science Office, the Max-Planck Society, and DFG InCHeM (FOR 2177) for their generous financial support. We are grateful to Sarah Gilmore for assistance in creation of the survey.


  • Communication/Writing
  • Distance Learning/Self Instruction
  • First-Year Undergraduate/General
  • Graduate Education/Research
  • Hands-On Learning/Manipulatives
  • High School/Introductory Chemistry
  • Multimedia-Based Learning
  • Second-Year Undergraduate
  • Stereochemistry
  • Upper-Division Undergraduate

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • Education


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