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3DStructGen: an interactive web-based 3D structure generation for non-periodic molecule and crystal


The increasing number of organic and inorganic structures promotes the development of the “Big Data” in chemistry and material science, and raises the need for cross-platform and web-based methods to search, view and edit structures. Many web-based three-dimensional (3D) structure tools have been developed for displaying existing models, building new models, and preparing initial input files for external calculations. But few of these tools can deal with crystal structures.


We developed a user-friendly and versatile program based on standard web techniques, such as Hyper Text Markup Language 5 (HTML5), Cascade Style Sheet (CSS) and JavaScript. Both non-periodic organic molecule and crystal structure can be visualized, built and edited interactively. The atom, bond, angle and dihedral in a molecule can be viewed and modified using sample mouse operations. A wide range of cheminformatics algorithms for crystal structure are provided, including cleaving surfaces, establishing vacuum layers, and building supercells. Four displayed styles, namely “Primitive cell”, “Original”, “In-cell” and “Packing” can be used to visualize a unit cell. Additionally, the initial input files for Vienna Ab-initio Simulation Package (VASP) and Gaussian can be obtained by interacting with dialog boxes in 3DStructGen.


3DStructGen is a highly platform-independent program. It can provide web service independently or can be integrated into other web platforms. Other than local desktop software, it does not require any additional effort to install the system but a web browser supporting HTML5. 3DStructGen may play a valuable role in online chemistry education and pre-processing of quantum calculations. The program has been released under MIT open-source license and is available on: https://matgen.nscc-gz.cn/Tools.html.


1.Chen, P., Wang, Y., Yan, H. et al. 3DStructGen: an interactive web-based 3D structure generation for non-periodic molecule and crystal. J Cheminform 12, 7 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1186/s13321-020-0411-2