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Exhibition Label: Crystals: Beauty, Science, Structure (07 Nov 2013 - 30 Mar 2014) - Mapping Penicillin in 3D

Mapping Penicillin in 3D

This model drawn on sheets of perspex is a contour
map in three dimensions. Look down into the model
to see how the curves assemble into solid shapes.
It was created in the 1940s by Dorothy Hodgkin and
her team when they were investigating the structure
of penicillin. The model’s lines represent contours of
electron density for part of a crystal salt of penicillin.
The shapes reveal the position of individual atoms.
Electron density is still used as the intermediate step
in establishing the atomic structure of molecules.

Museum of the History of Science, inv. 17631

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