Atom in a Box

1.1 16 May 2006

Aids in showing Hydrogenic atomic orbitals.


Developer website: Dauger Research, Inc.

Atom in a Box is an application that aids in visualizing the Hydrogenic atomic orbitals, a prime and otherwise unwieldy example of quantum mechanics. Unlike other tools in this category, this program raytraces through a three-dimensional cloud density that represents the wavefunction's probability density and presents its results in real-time (up to 48 frames per second on the latest hardware). The user interface is very interactive and provides a wide degree of flexibility. It contains all 140 eigenstates up to the n=7 energy level and the allowed spectral transitions between those eigenstates. It also allows a state formed by a superposition of up to eight of those eigenstates allowing for over 3 trillion possible states. The program can display a wavefunction as a picture of a cloud, use color as phase, plot in red-cyan left/right for 3D glasses, and slice the wavefunction.

What's New

Version 1.1:
  • Atom in a Box is now a Universal Application! You can now visualize orbitals on PowerPC and Intel Macs. The new version also ships with new features:
  • QuickTime export of the orbital animation, in addition to PICS. Endian conversions for file and disk access. OS X-compliant application and file icons and plst data. Correction of an issue with sound buffers for the orbital sound. New recognition of horizontal and vertical scroll wheels, so now you can use the Mighty Mouse's scroll ball to rotate the orbital.
  • Known issue in the Universal version: On most Macs, OS X 10.4.x places a 60 fps governor on QDFlushPortBuffer, consequently limiting the speed with which AiB can display its animation. One should be aware of that before making speed comparisons. Hint: increase the Samples setting to make the calculations more challenging.


Mac OS X 10.3.9 or later


Current Version (1.x)


Version Downloads
Education / Teaching Tools
16 May 2006
OS Classic / OS X / PPC 32 / Intel 32