State of the Art of Molecular Visualization in Immersive Virtual Environments



Visualization plays a crucial role in molecular and structural biology. It has been successfully applied to a variety of tasks, including structural analysis and interactive drug design. While some of the challenges in this area can be overcome with more advanced visualization and interaction techniques, others are challenging primarily due to the limitations of the hardware devices used to interact with the visualized content. Consequently, visualization researchers are increasingly trying to take advantage of new technologies to facilitate the work of domain scientists. Some typical problems associated with classic 2D interfaces, such as regular desktop computers, are a lack of natural spatial understanding and interaction, and a limited field of view. These problems could be solved by immersive virtual environments and corresponding hardware, such as virtual reality head-mounted displays. Thus, researchers are investigating the potential of immersive virtual environments in the field of molecular visualization. There is already a body of work ranging from educational approaches to protein visualization to applications for collaborative drug design. This review focuses on molecular visualization in immersive virtual environments as a whole, aiming to cover this area comprehensively. We divide the existing papers into different groups based on their application areas, and types of tasks performed. Further, we also include a list of available software tools. We conclude the report with a discussion of potential future research on molecular visualization in immersive environments.

Paper download:  (37.4 MB)


(pre-recorded) presentation at EuroVis EG Logo 2023:

Get the video:



The two self-created pictures and the table that we use in the paper are available, just as the whole paper, under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC-BY 4.0) license in a dedicated OSF repository.


David Kuťák, Pere-Pau Vázquez, Tobias Isenberg, Michael Krone, Marc Baaden, Jan Byška, Barbora Kozlíková, and Haichao Miao (2023) State of the Art of Molecular Visualization in Immersive Virtual Environments. Computer Graphics Forum, 42(6), article no. e14738, 29 pages, September 2023.

BibTeX entry:

@ARTICLE{Kutak:2023:SAM, author = {David Ku{\v{t}}{\'a}k and Pere-Pau V{\'a}zquez and Tobias Isenberg and Michael Krone and Marc Baaden and Jan By{\v{s}}ka and Barbora Kozl{\'i}kov{\'a} and Haichao Miao}, title = {State of the Art of Molecular Visualization in Immersive Virtual Environments}, journal = {Computer Graphics Forum}, year = {2023}, volume = {42}, number = {6}, month = sep, pages = {e14738:1--e14738:29}, articleno = {e14738}, numpages = {29}, doi = {10.1111/cgf.14738}, doi_url = {}, oa_gold_url = {}, oa_hal_url = {}, osf_url = {}, url = {}, pdf = {}, }

This work was a collaboration between all the teams of the respective paper co-authors.