Supramolecular complexation for environmental control
Supramolecular complexes offer a new and efficient way for the monitoring and removal of many substances emanating from technical processes, fertilization, plant and animal protection, or e.g. chemotherapy. Such pollutants range from toxic or radioactive metal ions and anions to chemical side products, herbicides, pesticides to drugs including steroids, and include degradation products from natural sources. The applications involve usually fast and reversible complex formation, due to prevailing non-covalent interactions. This is of importance for sensing as well as for separation techniques, where the often expensive host compounds can then be reused almost indefinitely. Immobilization of host compounds, e.g. on exchange resins or on membranes, and their implementation in smart new materials hold particular promise. The review illustrates how the design of suitable host compounds in combination with modern sensing and separation methods can contribute to solve some of the biggest problems facing chemistry, which arise from the everyday increasing pollution of the environment.