February 22, 2017
Carboxylic Acid dimers
The term supermolecule (or supramolecule) was introduced by Karl Lothar Wolf et al. (Übermoleküle) in 1937 to describe hydrogen-bonded acetic acid dimers.The study of non-covalent association of complexes of molecules has since developed into the field of supramolecular chemistry. The term supermolecule is sometimes used to describe supramolecular assemblies, which are complexes of two or more molecules (often macromolecules) that are not covalently bonded.The term supermolecule is also used in biochemistry to describe complexes of biomolecules, such as peptides and oligonucleotides composed of multiple strands.
is the domain of chemistry
beyond that of molecules
and focuses on the chemical systems made up of a discrete number
of assembled molecular subunits or components. The forces responsible for the spatial organization may vary from weak (intermolecular forces
or hydrogen bonding
) to strong (covalent bonding
), provided that the degree of electronic coupling between the molecular component remains small with respect to relevant energy parameters of the component.
While traditional chemistry focuses on the covalent bond
, supramolecular chemistry examines the weaker and reversible noncovalent interactions between molecules. These forces include hydrogen bonding, metal coordination
, hydrophobic forces
, van der Waals forces
, pi-pi interactions
effects. Important concepts that have been demonstrated by supramolecular chemistry include molecular self-assembly
, molecular recognition
, host-guest chemistry
, mechanically-interlocked molecular architectures
, and dynamic covalent chemistry
The study of non-covalent interactions
is crucial to understanding many biological processes from cell structure to vision that rely on these forces for structure and function. Biological systems
are often the inspiration for supramolecular research.