Rendering volumetric data in molecular systems

David S. Goodsell, I. Saira Mian, Arthur J. Olson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


A raster-based computer graphics method of imaging volumetric data (data sampled on a three-dimensional grid) has been added to an existing molecular rendering program. Any molecular property expressed as a 3D grid of scalar data values can be displayed around and inside of the molecular van der Waals surface as a collection of colored clouds and transparent surfaces. Different antical properties, such as color and opacity, are assigned to ranges of the molecular property and are rendered by a ray-tracing technique simulating the shading and shadowing of real objects, making the final images highly eadable. We have found useful applications in the visualization of crystallographic electron density, electrostatic potentials and protein active sites.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)41-47
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Molecular Graphics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1989
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biophysics
  • Biochemistry


  • cast shadows
  • raster graphics
  • transparent surfaces
  • volume rendering

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