As suggested here: Can site users suggest some design specifications regarding graduated site development

Several people seem to agree with suggesting molecules for designers to consider for a site background or header or other graphics, e.g.

  • benzene
  • aspirin
  • caffeine
  • cyclopropane
  • etc.

Having done this for a public art piece and my own research group website, I think the first suggestion would be to come up with a list of molecules. Given that, we can easily generate some graphics in 2D and 3D depictions for designers to consider.

So.. What would be some representative molecules for the site design?

(To clarify, I think illustrations of atomic and molecular orbitals would be great. Similarly, ionic solids, etc... Anything that speaks "chemistry" and shows atoms, bonds, orbitals, etc.)

  • $\begingroup$ I am fond of the $\ce{C_{60}}$ fullerene and its unusual icosahedral symmetry, though it is certainly not a common compound. Perhaps some inspiration can be derived from Wikipedia user Ben Mills and his great collection of chemical structures. $\endgroup$ Oct 21, 2014 at 14:16
  • $\begingroup$ Does it have to be limited strictly to molecules or can we also consider hydrogen-like atomic orbitals (in conjunction with molecules and/or with just atoms alone)? $\endgroup$ Oct 21, 2014 at 15:00
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @LordStryker I think orbitals and/or electron density would be great. I'm trying to see if I can get a set of nicely-rendered volumetric orbitals (i.e., "clouds", not "surfaces") $\endgroup$ Oct 21, 2014 at 15:05

1 Answer 1


For me, promoting chemistry as the central science should be forefront in any design brief. Simplicity, familiarity and widespread application should also be important.

I think that the water molecule meets all of these criteria perfectly. The most common compound in the universe, utilised (and often loathed) by all fields of chemistry from organic synthesis to theoretical chemistry, easily recognised by non-chemists and chemists alike, and is a simple design which still provides suitable scope for artistic license.

An example from wiki commons shows that even with a very simple molecular structure, there is still scope to include details about dipoles, bond angles and lengths etc to meet a desired level of complexity: enter image description here

  • $\begingroup$ Water is a no brainer. What do these values represent in your figure? $\endgroup$ Oct 21, 2014 at 15:01
  • $\begingroup$ @LordStryker Those are the electronegativities of the atoms in the molecule. $\endgroup$ Oct 21, 2014 at 17:22
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    $\begingroup$ @LordStryker I am a little bit disappointed that you did not figure this out by yourself... $\endgroup$ Oct 23, 2014 at 4:55
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    $\begingroup$ @Martin I'm not used to the comma notation (i.e. 2,20 vs. 2.20). To me it looked like two separate numbers (2 vs. 20) and I had no clue what it meant. $\endgroup$ Oct 23, 2014 at 11:00
  • $\begingroup$ it is very common for europeans to use a comma instead of a decimal point. $\endgroup$
    – Caters
    Oct 24, 2014 at 12:47
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ And it's a sin. Sometimes they are used as thousands separators. Sometimes as a decimal delimiter. $\endgroup$
    – tschoppi
    Oct 30, 2014 at 22:44

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