Jump to main content
Jump to site search
Access to RSC content Close the message box

Continue to access RSC content when you are not at your institution. Follow our step-by-step guide.

Issue 2, 2008
Previous Article Next Article

Selectivity in supramolecular host–guest complexes

Author affiliations


The background of possible selectivity–affinity correlations and their limitations is reviewed, with typical crown ether and cryptand complexes, ionic associations, hydrogen bonded complexes and complexes driven by van der Waals, stacking or hydrophobic interactions, with some additional topics including associations based on metal coordination as supplementary material. This tutorial review is addressed to students and researchers interested in molecular recognition, and relates to the design of sensors, of discriminators for separation processes, of supramolecular devices and of drug compounds. A theoretical analysis of selectivity in supramolecular host–guest complexes, defined as a difference in binding free energies for structurally related guests, as a function of total binding free energy shows that for certain types of intermolecular interactions one may observe a correlation between selectivity and affinity. Such correlation fails however if the selectivity is due to additional interactions at a secondary binding sites, which is expected in complexes with anisotropic guest molecules. Several clear examples of theoretically expected selectivity–affinity correlations are found. The influence of reaction conditions on the experimentally observed selectivity, defined as a difference in complexation degrees with different guests in the presence of added receptor, is illustrated. The importance of often neglected solvent effects on selectivity is exemplified with ionophore and hydrogen bonded complexes.

Graphical abstract: Selectivity in supramolecular host–guest complexes

Back to tab navigation

Supplementary files

Article information

08 Mar 2007
First published
17 Aug 2007

Chem. Soc. Rev., 2008,37, 263-277
Article type
Tutorial Review

Selectivity in supramolecular host–guest complexes

H. Schneider and A. K. Yatsimirsky, Chem. Soc. Rev., 2008, 37, 263
DOI: 10.1039/B612543N

Social activity

Search articles by author