Making Matter

Help with Exploring these Pages

Index © M. Hewat 1998-2006 Help

  • The 3D Structure Window
    If you don't see a new window displaying an interactive 3D model after clicking on ¶-flagged links such as this one for the famous ¶C60 Buckyballs, you should install a VRML browser plugin such as Cortona.

  • Installing the Cortona VRML Client under Windows-95/98/NT/2000/XP or Macintosh
    After installing the Cortona VRML Client plugin, reboot and install the Cortona VRML-1 to VRML-2 converter.

    Only the main mouse button is used by Cortona, and its action is determined by selecting a button along the left edge of the VRML window. Move the mouse over the button to discover its action - Fly, Examine, Plan, Pan, Turn or Roll the model by dragging the mouse. The buttons along the bottom are used to GoTo, Straighten, Restore or Fit the model. Probably you will want Examine and Turn with Fit. Right-click the window to select the "fastest" speed and other options.

  • Alternative plugins for Windows-95/98/NT/2000/XP
    CosmoPlayer for Windows is no longer officially supported, but may still be the best. You must manually copy the C:\Program Files\CosmoSoftware\CosmoPlayer\npcosmop211.dll file to your browser plugins folder.
    Since April 2006, CosmoPlayer no longer works in MSIE, but still works well in FireFox (details).
    Drag the left mouse button to rotate, the right button to translate, and the "middle button" (Ctrl-key modifier) to zoom. If the image skates off the page, locate the small Change Controls stick at the bottom left-center of the Cosmo console. Click on this (twice) to force "Examine" mode. Pivoron for Windows is an updated CosmoPlayer, but it too is no longer officially supported. You can find other VRML viewers at the VRML Repository.

  • Stand-alone VRML applications
    You can click the "Save VRML structure" button to download the VRML file, and then (in Windows) right-click this file to choose your favourite VRML application to always open such files. This is useful if you have problems displaying VRML files within your browser. The small Windows application VRML_viewer by Eric SIBERT makes this particularly easy for Cortona, CosmoPlayer and Pivoron.

  • Printing the 3D Structure Window
    You cannot print the 3D structure window directly, but you can use the "PrintScreen" key. Enlarge the window to fill the screen for best resolution, then (in Windows) press the "Alt-PrintScreen" keys to copy just the top window.

  • But what is VRML anyway ?
    You don't need to know what VRML is, but if you are curious, it stands for Virtual Reality Modelling Language. You can learn how easy it is to use for crystallography from the ILL's WWW pages.

  • Photo-realistic rendering of VRML files (Textures and POV-Ray)
    VRML files are plain ASCII, and can be edited with any text editor; you might like to experiment. In particular you can map a fancy texture onto the surface to produce striking illustrations. You just need to add a VRML-1 node such as: Texture2 { filename "earth.jpg" } eg in textured C60 buckey-balls to make the atom spheres look like miniature worlds ! You can also produce photo-realistic images from these VRML files, like this POV rendered C60 buckey-balls image, complete with shadows. Convert the VRML file to the POV (Persistance Of Vision) format using vrml2pov. Finally, you can now use POV-Ray to render the POV-format file, after editing it to set the light source and other details. Have fun experimenting !

    But first look at the pretty pictures of typical structures produced by ICSD-for-WWW.

    Please report any problems to