VFF: Using Virtual Reality to Improve our Understanding of Molecular Structure and Interactions
Friday, October 9, 2015
12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
Gary Kapral · Biochemistry
Nearly all concepts in the field of chemistry ultimately derive from the 3D arrangement of atoms (and electrons) in space, something that textbooks are singularly ill-suited to demonstrate. Thus, model building has ever been a high priority for chemists in education. From printed visual tricks, like wedge diagrams or cross-eye stereo protein structures, to 3D modeling, both physical and computational, many attempts have been made to provide budding chemists and biochemists with the knowledge of what the chemicals truly look like and the underlying principles of how reactions proceed in Cartesian space. By taking these concepts into virtual reality, we have successfully created an environment where students and researchers may immerse themselves in any chemical environment of interest, providing a way to study the 3D structures of large biological molecules and supramolecular chemicals, as well as observing how particular reactions proceed when taking into account their 3D geometry. Our programs are compatible with the Oculus Rift, and have already been used in classrooms at NCSSM and Duke to immerse students in the world of chemistry and biochemistry, resulting in improved understanding of reaction mechanisms and macromolecular structures.