Virtual Reality app developed by Oxford chemistry student

screenshot of the chemistry vr app visualising molecule structures

Screenshot of the chemistry Virtual Reality app visualising molecule structures. App developed by Deanne Clarke.

Despite the many 2D representations chemists use, chemistry is ultimately a 3D subject. Some students of the subject struggle with reconciling 2D representations with the 3D structures and spatial concepts they represent. 

Some research has shown that VR tools can be used to provide implicit spatial training and augment learning of spatial concepts. Deanne Clarke, a 4th year MChem student, developed and evaluated an educational VR app based on 3D topics that chemistry students often struggle with. The app was built using Unity 3D for the Google Cardboard platform. The topics covered were chirality, conformational analysis and the E2 mechanism; all inherently 3D topics. A deliberate attempt was made to exploit key features of VR such as immersion, presence and interactivity to create an app that would allow students to create effective mental models of 3D aspects of chemistry.

Students who used the VR app cited convenience, animation, engagement and realistic 3D as advantages of using the VR app compared to other visualisation tools used in chemistry.