Antony Williams / Chemistry World / V.7 / No. 5 / May 2010 /
The technology we've got used to accessing through our desktops is moving at high speed to our mobile phones, says Antony Williams
Mobile chemistry has arrived. This short article will review some of the available tools and offers a view of what the near term future may hold for this domain. The author's bias is to the iPhone and iPad platform as he has access to both.
Chemistry publishers have focused their smartphone applications to support access to science news stories and information regarding their latest publications.
These can deliver just the abstracts, or even provide the full text for immediate review or for saving locally to review later. The American Chemical Society (ACS) application also offers a search across more than 850 000 scientific research articles and book chapters archived on the ACS Web Editions Platform. [snip]
Such applications will probably be unveiled by an increasing number of publishers to parallel their efforts to mesh themselves into the social network tools. [snip]
Chemical Facts And Study Guides
Many smartphone apps are focused on the delivery of facts and study guides to support students through the learning process. These include Chemfacts, the Elements Study Buddy, Amino Acid Reference, ... .
Chemical calculators are general utility calculators of value to a bench chemist to calculate molarities, to perform various conversions such as grams and moles, and to allow computations such as the dilutions of stock solutions.
There are a number of chemical calculators available including LabCal, Solutions, the ChemWeight Molecular Weight Calculator, ... .
Chemical data tables are associated with either the elements or with chemical compounds.
There are many periodic table apps available, many with the same general capabilities of reviewing atomic masses, atomic radii and colour-coding of the table based on selected properties.
Some example apps are the A+ Voice Periodic Table, the EleMints Periodic Table and the Periodic Table and Chemistry Calculator. The Chemical Touch app offers additional information ... .
Drawing And Visualising Chemical Compounds
The drawing of chemical compounds on a handheld device such as the iPhone is challenging at best.
There have been a number of valiant efforts nevertheless. These include the IMoleBuilder and IMoleDraw. The release of ChemJuice in late 2009 produced the state of the art app for drawing chemical structures [Fig. 1] . [snip]
Figure 1. Drawing structures on your phone
ChemJuice includes a gallery of over 100 molecules and allows the calculation of molecular weight, formula and element composition. [snip]
For the visualisation of larger molecules, such as proteins, readers are referred to the molecules app. This application provides three-dimensional renderings of molecules that can be rotated by moving your finger across the display (Fig. 2), ... .
Figure 2. Larger structures can also be viewed
Millions Of Compounds
ChemMobi offers access to two databases of small molecules, each containing millions of compounds.
Powered by the DiscoveryGate and ChemSpider web services, the app provides access to over 30 million chemical structures, enabling chemists to search for chemical names or identifiers and quickly retrieve associated information including chemical structures, calculated properties, commercial availability ..., synonyms, and material safety data sheet summaries.
A discussion regarding mobile chemistry would be incomplete without a consideration of the future of ebooks in science.
Of course, ebooks are not just texts. They are already being released as rich multimedia experiences with one recent example demonstrating a potential future enabled by the iPad experience.
3D Specs At The Ready
Theodore Gray's The elements: a visual exploration was originally released as a hardback book and in that format was a festival for the eyes containing stunning imagery. Released as an ebook to coincide with the release of the iPad, each element has two 'epages' dedicated to it.
The first page is a rotating 3D image of the element together with reference information including the atomic radius, crystal structure, density, melting and boiling points and other data.
The reference data table includes online access to the WolframAlpha computational engine to research other related information.
The second page provides a series of additional facts and stories about the history and uses of the element (Fig. 3).
Figure 3. An ePage showing the details of the element copper
Alongside this information, access is provided to a number of additional 3D images ... .
Mobile chemistry is already in the hands of thousands of scientists. This will continue to gain momentum. What is possible today with the computational abilities of a smartphone will be dwarfed by the capabilities offered in the near future by the 'genius phone'.
Antony Williams is vice president of strategic development at the RSC's chemistry search engine ChemSpider
Also 'Related Links'
See Also > ChemSpider Mobile Goes Live