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Book Review Chemistry Beyond the Molecule Supramolecular Chemistry. Concepts and Perspectives. By J.-M. Lehn

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BOOKS
Supramolecular Chemistry. Concepts
and Perspectives. By J - M . Lehn. VCH
Verlagsgesellschaft, Weinheim, 1995.
271 pp.. hardcover DM 128.00.ISBN 3-527-29312-4; softcover DM
58.00.- ISBN 3-527-29311-6
The embryonic science of supramolecular chemistrq existed before Jean-Marie
Lehn, but he has
given the field its
name. an intellectual focus. and a
vision for the future. Supramolecular chemistry is
“chemistry
beyond the molecule”, and its goal
is to gain control
over the intermolecular noncovalent bond. It is, therefore. concerned with the organization and
properties o f ensembles of molecules held
together by weak interactions rather than
with the individual molecules themselves.
Host-guest complexes, self-assembled objects, and spatially organized films can all
be conjured out of small building blocks
by the careful exploitation of hydrogen
bonds, metal-ligand binding, n-n interactions, and hydrophobic effects, and the
resulting ensembles have potential as
catalysts, sensors. or new materials. In
one zense. of course, there is nothing new
in all this: a s Lehn himself points out early
in this book. Werner’s complexes have
been known for a hundred years. and the
hydrogcn-bonded acetic acid dinier for
over fifty. But the bringing together of
such disparate elements to form an emerging, coherent discipline that crosses conventional boundaries is relatively new and
Thi\ section coiitains hook reviews and a list of
nsv, hook\ rcceived hy the editor Book reviews are
w r i t t e n hq inwtiition Irom the editor. Suggestions
lor book\ 10 be reviewed and for hook rcviewers
are welcomc. Publishers should send brochures or
( h e t t e i ) booka to Di. Ralf Baurnanri. Redaktton
4ngew:indtc Chcinie. Postfach 10 1 1 61. D-69451
Weinheiin, Federal Republic ofGerman?.. T h e editor irescrvm thc right of selecting uhich books will
hc re\’ieucd Uninvited books not chosen for
reiii‘u, w i l l i i o t he returned.
\
is partly a result of Lehn’s passionate advocacy over many years.
This book is an attempt to summarize
Lehn’s concepts of supramolecular chemistry. It is based on two sets of lectures;
most of the discussion is centered around
his own group’s enormous contributions.
The attraction of this personal approach
is that enthusiasm and immediacy leap off
the page as the author guides us through
twenty years of his research. Starting with
the recognition of simple metal ions by
macrocycles, we move through chapters
on anion recognition. receptors with multiple sites, supraniolcular reactivity and
catalysis, transport. devices, and self-assembly. Each chapter brings a new species
into his “molecular bestiary” including
coronands. spherands. and cryptophanes.
There is also a whole new vocabulary of
categories and topics: here are endoreceptors, nanostructures, semiophores, and
chemionics in all their glory. At this stage
in their development, many of these words
may feel like unnecessary jargon, and
some will undoubtedly wither into obscurity, but many of them will come to be
essential as they provide the linguistic key
for communicating the ideas they represent.
This is an excellent guide to the supramolecular efforts of Lehn and over 200
coworkers, bringing together hundreds of
papers that are scattered through the literature of several disciplines. This approach, however. does not make an ideal
text for teaching purposes. It assumes too
much fundamental knowledge of kinetics,
thermodynamics, intermolecular interaction, and synthesis to provide the basis for
a satisfying teaching course except at a
very high level. There is still room for a
real textbook of supramolecular chemistry.
A final feature of the personal approach is that it enables Lehn to bring in
connections with literature and sculpture,
placing chemistry in a wider. philosophical context. He ends with an inspirational
call to chemistry to invent, and above all.
to c w r e . The joy of chemistry in general,
and of supramolecular chemistry in particular, is that we are not limited to the
repertoire of reactions and receptors that
Nature has provided or the natural prod-
ucts that have evolved oker the millenia:
we can create our own. And each of us
can create a unique structure: whereas in
most fields scientists are competing to
clone the same receptor, solve the same
equation, or make the same natural
product, those of us in the supramolecular
community can cooperate, each building
block from each laboratory contributing
its own unique features and personality. It
is this combination of cooperativity, art,
and science that makes supramolecular
chemistry such fun, and i t is a feeling that
Jean-Marie Lehn has captured so well in
this book.
Jc.venf>.K. M . Sanders
Department of Chemistry
University of Cambridge (UK)
Container Molecules and Their Guests.
By D. J. Cram and J. M . Crum. (Series : Monographs in Supramolecular
Chemistry, Vol. 4). Royal Society
of Chemistry, Cambridge, 1994.
223 pp., hardcover f. 49.50.--ISBN
0-851 86-972-6
In this monograph devoted to supramolecular chemistry the authors review a
subject that originates mainly from their
own research into host - guest complexation chemistry, and include closely related
results from other groups. The ten chapters of the book present topics covering
the twenty-five year period from 1970,
with a particular emphasis on the authors’ work from 1987. As defined by
D. J. Cram in his preface. this review is
”essentially a chronicle of the more successful parts of the journey [his] research
group took into the wilderness of complexation phenomena”. It is indeed a fascinating and impressive presentation of a
masterpiece of supramolecular chemistry.
The design of synthetic molecular receptors is one of the main challenges facing
organic chemists in the field of supramolecular chemistry. This book will familiarize the reader with new classes of
molecular containers. i.e. new molecules
large enough to trap and encapsulate ionic or neutral guests to forin a supramolecular complex. There is a thorough dis-
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