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Halogen bonds are noncovalent interactions in which covalently bound halogens act as electrophilic species. The utility of halogen bonding for controlling self-assembly in the solid state is evident from a broad spectrum of applications in crystal engineering and materials science. Until recently, it has been less clear whether, and to what extent, halogen bonding could be employed to influence conformation, binding or reactivity in the solution phase. This tutorial review summarizes and interprets solution-phase thermodynamic data for halogen bonding interactions obtained over the past six decades and highlights emerging applications in molecular recognition, medicinal chemistry and catalysis.
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