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Supramolecular Catalysis. Edited by Piet W. N. M. van Leeuwen

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Supramolecular Catalysis
Edited by Piet W.
N. M. van Leeuwen.
Wiley-VCH, Weinheim 2008.
303 pp., hardcover
E 139.00.—ISBN
The application of supramolecular concepts in catalysis has received growing
interest over the last decade – reason
enough for a symposium to be held in
Barcelona earlier this year (SUPRAcat
2008), where the community gathered to
discuss the latest developments in the
field. Most of the distinct plenary speakers of this meeting agreed on P. van
Leeuwen)s invitation to contribute to
this book. In this way a collection of ten
chapters arose, with two of them being
more general reviews and the others
being focused on more specialized activities of the individual contributing
It starts with a nice introduction by
Ballester und Vidal that outlines the
challenges connected with the application of supramolecular approaches to
catalytic systems before giving a brief
overview of the main concepts and
achievements that have been made. It
is important to note that the authors also
address some of the major obstacles
associated with this strategy, such as the
problems connected with bimolecular
reactions and the phenomenon of product inhibition that often lead to an
astonishing rate acceleration of a given
transformation but, unfortunately, no
One of the concepts is the use of
noncovalent (supramolecular) interactions such as hydrogen bonds or coordination to an additional metal center to
generate a catalytically active transitionmetal complex. Such systems are described in the worth-reading contributions
of Breit, Reek, Takacs, and van Leeuwen, where they demonstrate, how this
strategy has been successfully applied to
a wide range of catalytic transformations, such as, for example, hydrogenations, hydrations, hydroformylations, or
allylations to mention only a few.
The groups of Lin, Bergman and
Raymond, and Reek follow another
approach which is the subject of their
three interesting accounts. In all these
cases cavity structures are prepared by
covalent or noncovalent synthesis.
These capsular or macrocyclic architectures can be regarded as confined spaces
that allow very interesting (catalytic)
transformations of encapsulated species
because of their defined geometrical
dimensions and their precise and
unique arrangement of functional
Another nice account comes from
the group of Mandolini who summarizes
the efforts that have been made to
understand the mechanistical details of
acyl transfer processes that are mediated by alkaline-earth metal ion crown
ether complexes. Nolte et al. then discuss their idea to develop supramolecular catalysts by following natural examples, such as basketlike glycolurils, artificial porphyins as mimics for porphyincontaining enzymes, membrane-bound
systems, and very large (bio-)
amphiphiles. Unfortunately, the contribution of Ortiz dealing with structural
aspects of the assembly of discrete
and polymeric metallosupramolecular
1 2008 Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim
aggregates, does not contain a single
hint about possible applications in catalysis. Thus, the reason for including it in
this book remains somehow mysterious.
Hence, there remain nine worthreading and excellently illustrated contributions that are, however, focused on
rather special topics except for the first
and the last more-general chapters of
Ballester and Vidal and van Leeuwen.
This implies an almost inevitable lack of
certain aspects, which one could have
expected to be included in a book with a
title such as this. Thus, the search for a
discussion on the use of cyclodextrins,
cavitands or related concave structures,
self-replicating systems, dendrimers, or
imprinted polymers as well as the
numerous approaches to supramolecularly controlled and catalyzed cycloadditions will be almost in vain. Also, one
could argue, whether the description of
porphyrin enzyme mimics should not
deserve more space given the wealth of
work that has been done in this area
(although this aspect is at least listed in
the contributions of Nolte and Reek).
However, these critics should not be
overemphasized, because this book does
neither claim to be a comprehensive
overview of all activities in this field and
it certainly is not meant as a textbook.
Instead, I got the impression while
reading this book that it was the editor)s
and the co-authors) aim to explain their
(in parts very) personal view on this
topic and share their very own
approaches with the community. As
such, this book is certainly useful and
will stimulate chemists interested in
supramolecular chemistry and also certainly some readers from outside this
community to think about the application of supramolecular concepts in catalysis.
Arne Ltzen
Kekul)-Institut f,r Organische Chemie
und Biochemie
Universit0t Bonn
DOI: 10.1002/anie.200885604
Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2008, 47, 6320
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van, leeuwen, catalysing, supramolecular, edited, piety
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