Synthetic chemists have provided a wide array of supramolecular assemblies able to encapsulate guest molecules. The scope of this tutorial review focuses on supramolecular host molecules capable of reversibly encapsulating polyatomic guests. Much work has been done to determine the mechanism of guest encapsulation and guest release. This review covers common methods of monitoring and characterizing guest exchange such as NMR, UV-VIS, mass spectrometry, electrochemistry, and calorimetry and also presents representative examples of guest exchange mechanisms. The guest exchange mechanisms of hemicarcerands, cucurbiturils, hydrogen-bonded assemblies, and metal–ligand assemblies are discussed. Special attention is given to systems which exhibit constrictive binding, a motif common in supramolecular guest exchange systems.
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