Is there any websites or resources where I can get a good image of a certain crystal structure? In my case I'm looking for lead(II) tungstate $\ce{PbWO4}$ and I can't find a vivid graphic on google (except of the structural formula).

I've seen modeling structure of crystals, but unfortunately the software is commercial.


I recommend to fetch the crystal structures of inorganic compounds via specific Google search pattern site:crystallography.net <keyword(s)>, e.g. in your case

site:crystallography.net PbWO4

yields in this COD page where you can use JSmol to do basic visualization right in your web browser. Alternatively, you can download CIF and work further offline with numerous free tools such as Mercury or Olex2. Both are free and available for Windows, Linux and MacOS.


enter image description here


enter image description here

  • $\begingroup$ Thanks! The image provided there doesn't look that good. The aim is to have a high quality image for my thesis. Is there something that matches my interests? $\endgroup$ – Ben Dec 24 '17 at 14:20
  • $\begingroup$ @Ben The image you are referring to is the one generated by JSmol script, which is very configurable in terms of visualization. Do read the JSmol manual if you want to know more. Same for the desktop apps, there is no easy way around. $\endgroup$ – andselisk Dec 24 '17 at 14:25
  • $\begingroup$ Ah, sorry, the other two tools provide nice graphics. Will have a look on them! Thank you! $\endgroup$ – Ben Dec 24 '17 at 14:26
  • $\begingroup$ @Ben No prob, but as I said, you got to read the manuals first, and it's going to take some time (an evening, maybe a couple). The "beauty" of JSmol is that you can easily see right in you browser whether that's the structure you want or not without tedious downloading and opening CIF files on the computer:) $\endgroup$ – andselisk Dec 24 '17 at 14:30
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks, can you maybe recommend a certain drawing style ? My thesis is about particle physics and I only want to "show" the material we're using to detect particles. This means it's indeed more about (simple) visualization and less about specific information. $\endgroup$ – Ben Dec 24 '17 at 14:39

I follow a similar methods as mentioned above. First, locate the CIF file as described above.

I use VESTA which is a free, multiplatform molecular visualization program. Its relatively easy to get a decent image out of it (File>Export Raster Image):

enter image description here

You can even render vector images! You have relatively little control over the style of the image, but it works well for basic images. I usually only find myself tweaking the shininess of the atoms and bonds(Objects>properties>Atoms).

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Oh, I actually forgot about this gem, very nice answer! Probably you might want to add that VESTA is also free (as a beer) and is cross-platform:) $\endgroup$ – andselisk Dec 25 '17 at 7:30

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