The wealth of information contained within the Cambridge Structural Database (CSD) extends far beyond a collection of crystal structures.  Knowledge derived from these materials informs much of chemistry, biochemistry, and biology.  Chemical and structural concepts are often difficult to grasp without real world, interactive examples for students to explore.

The CCDC and our colleagues continually produce educational materials for use in classroom and computer lab settings, or as independent study modules.  Many of these materials make use of the Teaching Subset - a freely available set of over 750 structures that can be investigated with the free version of our Mercury visualisation and analysis program.  Of course, our database of over one million entries are available for free through our Access Structures portal.

If you are an educator looking for supplementary teaching materials, find out more about the Teaching Database here.  If you have developed your own modules using the CSD and would like to share them with the broader community, please contact us at education@ccdc.cam.ac.uk.

Use cases

"The Cambridge Structural Database (CSD) is a wonderful asset to my teaching chemistry at both the university introductory level and in an advanced inorganic chemistry course. I have been using it for over 20 years to illustrate the 3-D structures of interesting molecules! Recent improvements and the availability of the Teaching Database, Mercury, and WebCSD, have made the CSD my primary (and indispensable) teaching tool. Students inevitably love seeing the magnificent structures and Mercury is so easy to use that they become captivated.

Specifically, in the introductory course, I utilize it to illustrate the structures of interesting molecules such as pesticides (such as DDT and Aldrin, Dieldrin), common medicinal compounds (e.g., aspirin, penicillin), the nucleic acid bases, and molecules involved in food chemistry (capsaicin). Some of the teaching modules (for example, VESPR theory) are quite useful.

For the advanced course, I have students use the database to (1) investigate metal-complex geometries (coordination numbers 2-10); (2) view ligand structures and how they get modified when they are complexed to metals; (3) investigate point group and space group symmetry elements and chirality in inorganic complexes; (4) do some of the educational modules; (5) design homework assignments where students measure bond distances and angles, intermolecular interactions, (6) visualize structural changes that result when functional groups are changes, etc."

Miriam Rossi, Professor of Chemistry at Vassar College

  

 

Publications

  • Learning about intermolecular interactions from the Cambridge Structural Database
    G. M. Battle and F. H. Allen, J. Chem. Educ., 89, 38-44, 2012 10.1021/ed200139t
  • Teaching chemistry in 3D using crystal structure data
    S. Henderson, G. M. Battle, and F. H. Allen, Education in Chemistry, Vol 48, No. 6 (November 2011).
  • Teaching 3D structural chemistry using crystal structure databases 4: Advanced examples of discovery-based learning
    G. M. Battle, F. H. Allen, G. M. Ferrence, J. Chem. Ed. 88, 891-897, 2011 10.1021/ed1011025
  • Teaching 3D structural chemistry using crystal structure databases 3: The Cambridge Structural Database System - database content and access software in educational applications
    G. M. Battle, F. H. Allen, G. M. Ferrence, J. Chem. Ed., 88, 886-890, 2011 10.1021/ed1011019
  • Applications of the Cambridge Structural Database in Chemical Education
    G. M. Battle, G. M. Ferrence, F. H. Allen, J. Appl. Cryst., 43, 1208-1223, 2010 10.1107/S0021889810024155
  • Teaching 3D structural chemistry using crystal structure databases: 2. Example teaching units that utilise an interactive web-accessible subset of the Cambridge Structural Database
    G. M. Battle, F. H. Allen, G. M. Ferrence, J. Chem. Ed., 87, 813-818, 2010 10.1021/ed100257t
  • Teaching 3D structural chemistry using crystal structure databases: 1. An interactive web-accessible teaching subset of the Cambridge Structural Database
    G. M. Battle, F. H. Allen, G. M. Ferrence, J. Chem. Ed., 87, 809-812, 2010 10.1021/ed100256k