Core Concepts in Supramolecular Chemistry and Nanochemistry

Jonathan W. Steed, David R. Turner and Karl J. Wallace

J. Wiley & Sons, Chichester 2007.


Supramolecular Chemistry is now a mature and highly vigorous field. In 2005 alone some 2532 scientific papers used the word ‘supramolecular’ in the title, keywords, or abstract! The term ‘supramolecular’ has origins at least to Webster’s dictionary in 1903, but was first applied in the modern sense by Jean-Marie Lehn in 1978 as the “… chemistry of molecular assemblies and of the intermolecular bond.” Lehn shared the 1987 Nobel Prize in chemistry with Charles Pedersen and Donald Cram for their pioneering work in the field in the late 1960s and subsequent decades. Since that time chemists have attained an astonishing degree of control over the ‘non-covalent bond’ and have used these techniques to synthesise a plethora of beautiful and intricate functional structures with dimensions on the nanometre scale. More recently, this ability to ‘synthesise up’ nanoscale architectures and components has given rise to the field of ‘nanochemistry’ – the preparation and manipulation of molecular structures on length scales of ca. 1 – 500 nm. The boundaries of Nanochemistry and Supramolecular Chemistry are highly subjective, but they are somewhat distinct areas. The modern explosion in nanochemistry is very much based, however, upon the fundamental understanding of intermolecular interactions engendered by Supramolecualr chemists. It thus makes sense for this book to provide a one stop brief introduction that traces the fascinating modern practice of the chemistry of the non-covalent bond from its fundamental origins through to its expression in the emergence of nanochemistry

Both Supramolecular Chemistry and Nanochemistry are now featuring ever more strongly in undergraduate and postgraduate degree courses throughout the world. The amount of each discipline that is taught is highly variable but it is often a relatively small component of the undergraduate curriculum. The need for a concise introductory book that could serve as a basis for supramolecular chemistry courses of varying lengths was recognised by Jerry Atwood and one of us (JWS) in 1995. Andy Slade at Wiley has been a great believer in the concept and in 2000 Steed and Atwood published the very successful ‘Supramolecular Chemistry’, a book that has since even made it into a Russian Language edition. To Andy’s dismay, however, this ‘concise introduction’ weighed in at over 700 pages. It turns out that there was lot to cover! Five years later in 2005 Geff Ozin and Andre Arsenault did the same thing for Nanochemistry, producing an extremely comprehensive overview of research in the field. Andy never gave up the idea of the concise textbook, however, and the idea rumbled around a South Kensington pub one evening while the three of us were all working together in London. Since then we have all moved institution and it has taken three years and a great deal of e-mail between three continents to bring the book to fruition but we hope that it will have been worth the wait. In this book we have tried to provide an above all topical overview and introduction to current thinking in Supramolecular chemistry and to show how supramolecular concepts evolve into nanochemical systems. By definition the book is not comprehensive but we apologise in advance to the many fine researchers whose work we could not include. The examples we have chosen are those that best illustrate the fundamental concepts and breadth of the field. In order to highlight important (and readable!) entries into the Supramolecular Chemistry literature we have chosen to adopt a system of “key references” which are marked by a key symbol at the start of most major sections. Key references are chosen predominantly from the secondary, or review literature to give the interested student an up-to-date and, above-all, focused entry into the research literature for any subsection of the material which catches their interest (or is assigned as homework!). It is hoped in this way to guide the reader to the most useful or influential work as quickly as possible without the often bewildering effect that a mass of more or less obscure citations to the primary literature may have. Additional citations are given to useful further reading.

Finally, any book is not written without the help and support of very many people. We would particularly like to thank Andy Slade at Wiley for championing the concept for this book and for the pleasant lunches. We are very grateful to Drs. Stuart Batten, Mark Gray, Gregory Kirkovits, Ian van de Lindre, Craig Forsyth, Anand Bhatt, Leigh Jones and Kirsty Anderson for their constructive criticism and helpful comments and suggestions. Thanks to Dr. Kellar Autumn for his useful comments on chapter 5. DRT wishes to add his personal thanks to his family for their unwavering support, his friends and colleagues in both England and Australia and particularly Jodie for her tolerance! KJW would like to thank his partner Francis Tarbett for her endless love, support and patience throughout the last couple of years.

Jonathan W. Steed, Durham UK

David R. Turner, Melbourne, Australia

Karl J. Wallace, Mississippi, USA

September 2006

Created on Aug 13, 2008
(c) JWS & KMA