Computing stoichiometric molecular composition from crystal structures

J Appl Crystallogr. 2015 Jan 30;48(Pt 1):85-91. doi: 10.1107/S1600576714025904. eCollection 2015 Feb 1.


Crystallographic investigations deliver high-accuracy information about positions of atoms in crystal unit cells. For chemists, however, the structure of a molecule is most often of interest. The structure must thus be reconstructed from crystallographic files using symmetry information and chemical properties of atoms. Most existing algorithms faithfully reconstruct separate molecules but not the overall stoichiometry of the complex present in a crystal. Here, an algorithm that can reconstruct stoichiometrically correct multimolecular ensembles is described. This algorithm uses only the crystal symmetry information for determining molecule numbers and their stoichiometric ratios. The algorithm can be used by chemists and crystallographers as a standalone implementation for investigating above-molecular ensembles or as a function implemented in graphical crystal analysis software. The greatest envisaged benefit of the algorithm, however, is for the users of large crystallographic and chemical databases, since it will permit database maintainers to generate stoichiometrically correct chemical representations of crystal structures automatically and to match them against chemical databases, enabling multidisciplinary searches across multiple databases.

Keywords: molecular structure; multimolecular ensembles.