Visualization, Interactive Handling and Simulation of Molecules in Commodity Augmented Reality in Web Browsers Using moleculARweb’s Virtual Modeling Kits


  • Fabio Cortes Rodriguez EPFL
  • Lucien Krapp EPFL
  • Matteo Dal Peraro Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne
  • Luciano Abriata Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne



Augmented reality, Chemistry education, Molecular graphics, Molecular modelling, Molecular simulations, Web programming, WebXR


moleculARweb ( began as a website for education and outreach in chemistry and structural biology through augmented reality (AR) content that runs in the web browsers of regular devices like smartphones, tablets, and computers. Here we present two evolutions of moleculARweb’s Virtual Modeling Kits (VMK), tools where users can build and view molecules, and explore their mechanics, in 3D AR by handling the molecules in full 3D with custom-printed cube markers (VMK 2.0) or by moving around a simulated scene with mouse or touch gestures (VMK 3.0). Upon simulation the molecules experience visually realistic torsions, clashes, and hydrogen-bonding interactions that the user can manually switch on and off to explore their effects. Moreover, by manually tuning a fictitious temperature the users can accelerate conformational transitions or 'freeze' specific conformations for careful inspection in 3D. Even some phase transitions and separations can be simulated. We here showcase these and other features of the new VMKs connecting them to possible specific applications to teaching and self-learning of concepts from general, organic, biological and physical chemistry; and in assisting with small tasks in molecular modelling for research. Last, in a short discussion section we overview what future developments are needed for the 'dream tool' for the future of chemistry education and work.




How to Cite

F. Cortes Rodriguez, L. Krapp, M. Dal Peraro, L. Abriata, Chimia 2022, 76, 145, DOI: 10.2533/chimia.2022.145.