CIF (.cif)

Background & Context

    • MIME type: chemical/x-cif
    • 3D molecular model file.
    • Used in cheminformatics applications and on the web for storing and exchanging molecule models.
    • CIF is an acronym for Crystallographic Information File and Crystallographic Information Framework.
    • Plain text format.
    • Extensible self-describing format.
    • Developed in 1991 by the International Union of Crystallography.


  • Import["file.cif"] reads a CIF file and returns its contents as a list of rules.
  • Import["file.cif",elem] imports the specified element from a CIF file.
  • Import["file.cif",{{elem1,elem2,}}] imports multiple elements.
  • The import format can be specified with Import["file","CIF"] or Import["file",{"CIF",elem,}].
  • See the reference pages for full general information on Import.
  • ImportString supports the CIF format.

Import Elements

  • General Import elements:
  • "Elements"list of elements and options available in this file
    "Rules"full list of rules for each element and option
    "Options"list of rules for options, properties, and settings
  • Data representation elements:
  • "Data"numerical and textual data, given as a list of rules
    "Comments"user comments as a list of strings
    "Molecule"a symbolic representation of the molecule model
  • Import uses the "Data" element by default for the CIF format.


Basic Examples  (2)

Import a CIF file:

Import a molecule object from a CIF file:

Visualize the molecule in 3D: