Occasionally, I get queries from students asking me where they can find the structure of this or that compound, usually it’s something like sildenafil (Viagra), ranitidine (Zantac), or rofecoxib (Vioxx) and is pertinent to their current chemistry homework assignment.
There are lots of databases on the web that contain great swathes of molecular structures including some that I wrote about for Nature recently, such as PubChem. But, another place to start your search might be Molecular Heaven or ChemSpider.com
But, what I don’t understand is why students cannot use the search engines, surely the easiest option would be to type in “molecular model” or structure and the name of the compound. When I tried molecular model ranitidine, the first hit had a molecular structure and loads of other information on the anti-ulcer drug. Of course, with ChemSpider you will likely get more curated data together with more detailed information, so perhaps I’ve answered my own question in that regard.
POST UPDATED: ChemSpider information added September 16, 2008