Skip to Main Content
Go to Penn Libraries homepage   Go to Guides homepage

Using the Cambridge Structural Database at Penn: Home

This page explains the methods by which users can access the Cambridge Structural Database (CSD) at the University of Pennsylvania

Accessing the Cambridge Structural Database at Penn

The desktop client version of the Cambridge Structural Database is installed on all PennKey authenticated computers in the Chemistry Library and can be accessed using an application called ConQuest. Please inquire at the Chemistry Library circulation desk if you are having difficulty finding or using the application on one of our computers. You can also download the database, the ConQuest client, and a selection of related software and helper applications to your own on-campus computer by visiting If you prefer not to install the database on your own computer, you may also use the Web-based CSD system by visiting  Non-Penn users can use the publicly-accessible AccessStructures interface.

WebCSD - Penn Only

WebCSD is the Web-based interface to the Cambridge Structural Database, available to current Penn affiliates.  It is recommended for individuals who wish to do a quick search of crystal structures or download individual .cif files.

Click here to access WebCSD:


  • Available anywhere, any time via Penn's proxy server
  • Enhanced reduced cell search
  • Structure and similarity searching available
  • Export files in .cif, .sdf, and .mol2 formats

CSD Client Software - Penn Only

The CSD client software is installed on many computers in the Chemistry Library and can be downloaded to any on-campus computer.  It is recommended for current Penn affiliates who wish to do more complex searches or perform more in-depth analysis on search results using one of the associated CCDC software applications.

Click here to begin the download process:


  • Available for installation to on-campus PC, Mac, and LINUX systems
  • Identify bond lengths/angles to measure in search results
  • Export to visualization software, such as Mercury
  • Export search parameters, as well as crystal structure coordinates, to .xls, in addition to other file formats

Access Structures - Non-Penn Users

AccessStructures is the public-access interface to the structures deposited with CCDC.  Non-Penn affiliates searching for a specific, known .cif file are encouraged to use this interface.  Penn users will be automatically directed to WebCSD.

Click here to use AccessStructures:


  • Search by CCDC number, refcode, substance name, doi, or journal information
  • Retrieve individual .cif files
  • Publicly accessible

Need Help? Contact:

Profile Photo
Judith Currano
1973 Wing, Chemistry Laboratories

About the Cambridge Structural Database

The Cambridge Structural Database is produced by the Cambridge Crystallographic Data Centre, a registered charity in the United Kingdom with the mission of collecting and making available high-quality crystal structure and structural chemistry information.  CSD has long been a data repository in which chemists, engineers, and materials scientists have deposited their crystal structure data, and many journals require deposition in the CSD as part of the article submission process. The database currently contains X-ray and neutron diffraction analyses for carbon-containing compounds composed of up to 1000 atoms. Types of substances represented include:

  • Organics
  • Organometallics
  • Metal complexes
  • Compounds of main group elements
  • Peptides of up to 24 residues
  • Mono-, di-, and tri-nucleotides

The database is searchable by structure, text, or the journal article that the crystal structure accompanies, and it permits substructure searching. Entries for each compound include:

  • Complete literature citations (title, author, journal, etc.)
  • Compound information (name, formula, and structural representation in two or three dimensions)
  • Textual information (details of disorder, non-standard experimental conditions, absolute configuration, etc.)
  • Crystallographic information (atomic coordinates, cell parameters, space group, unit cell information, etc.)
Penn Libraries Home Franklin Home
(215) 898-7555