Space-filling model

Type of 3D molecular model / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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In chemistry, a space-filling model, also known as a calotte model, is a type of three-dimensional (3D) molecular model where the atoms are represented by spheres whose radii are proportional to the radii of the atoms and whose center-to-center distances are proportional to the distances between the atomic nuclei, all in the same scale. Atoms of different chemical elements are usually represented by spheres of different colors.

A space-filling model of n-octane, the straight chain (normal) hydrocarbon composed of 8 carbons and 18 hydrogens, formulae: CH3CH2(CH2)4CH2CH3 or C
. Note, the representative shown is of a single conformational "pose" of a population of molecules, which, because of low Gibbs energy barriers to rotation about its carbon-carbon bonds (giving the carbon "chain" great flexibility), normally is composed of a very large number of different such conformations (e.g., in solution).
An example of a three-dimensional, space-filling model of a complex molecule, THC, the active agent in marijuana.

Space-filling calotte models are also referred to as CPK models after the chemists Robert Corey, Linus Pauling, and Walter Koltun, who over a span of time developed the modeling concept into a useful form.[1] They are distinguished from other 3D representations, such as the ball-and-stick and skeletal models, by the use of the "full size" space-filling spheres for the atoms. The models are tactile and manually rotatable. They are useful for visualizing the effective shape and relative dimensions of a molecule, and (because of the rotatability) the shapes of the surface of the various conformers. On the other hand, these models mask the chemical bonds between the atoms, and make it difficult to see the structure of the molecule that is obscured by the atoms nearest to the viewer in a particular pose. For this reason, such models are of greater utility if they can be used dynamically, especially when used with complex molecules (e.g., see the greater understanding of the molecules shape given when the THC model is clicked on to rotate).