Supramolecular organic frameworks: Engineering periodicity in water through host-guest chemistry

Jia Tian, Lan Chen, Dan Wei Zhang, Yi Liu*, Zhan Ting Li

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

117 Citations (Scopus)


The development of homogeneous, water-soluble periodic self-assembled structures comprise repeating units that produce porosity in two-dimensional (2D) or three-dimensional (3D) spaces has become a topic of growing interest in the field of supramolecular chemistry. Such novel self-assembled entities, known as supramolecular organic frameworks (SOFs), are the result of programmed host-guest interactions, which allows for the thermodynamically controlled generation of monolayer sheets or a diamondoid architecture with regular internal cavities or pores under mild conditions. This feature article aims at propagating the conceptually novel SOFs as a new entry into conventional supramolecular polymers. In the first section, we will describe the background of porous solid frameworks and supramolecular polymers. We then introduce the self-assembling behaviour of several multitopic flexible molecules, which is closely related to the design of periodic SOFs from rigid multitopic building blocks. This is followed by a brief discussion of cucurbit[8]uril (CB[8])-encapsulation-enhanced aromatic stacking in water. The three-component host-guest pattern based on this stacking motif has been utilized to drive the formation of most of the new SOFs. In the following two sections, we will highlight the main advances in the construction of 2D and 3D SOFs and the related functional aspects. Finally, we will offer our opinions on future directions for both structures and functions. We hope that this article will trigger the interest of researchers in the field of chemistry, physics, biology and materials science, which should help accelerate the applications of this new family of soft self-assembled organic frameworks.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6351-6362
Number of pages12
JournalChemical Communications
Issue number38
Early online date7 Apr 2016
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 7 Apr 2016


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