Supramolecular interactions

Jan Bart ten Hove
Prof. Dr. Aldrik Velders

Supramolecular interactions are a class of interactions categorized by their non-covalent character. Examples of supramolecular interactions include van der Waals forces, pi-pi stacking, hydrogen bonding, metal-ligand coordination, electrostatic interactions, and host-guest interactions.

Host-guest interactions can be used to study and exploit the assembly of molecules into a complex. For example, cyclodextrin-based host-guest chemistry uses the cyclodextrin cavity to interact with small hydrophobic moieties, like benzene- and naphthalene derivatives. Host-guest interactions are commonly used in sensors, for instance the host-guest interaction between phenolphthalein and cyclodextrin  can be used to detect ibuprofen. By functionalizing nanoparticles with cyclodextrin, the nanoparticles can be used as a readout for cyclodextrin interactions. For example, we use cyclodextrin-functionalized nanoparticles for highly sensitive enzyme detection, and for the detection of proteins (e.g., lectins) in solution.