The self-assembly of molecular components into complex superstructures involves the subtle interplay of various noncovalent forces. Charged species are often utilised in self-assembly processes as a result of the favorable π–π, cation–π, electrostatic, and hydrogen bonding interactions that form between these species. Although the counterions associated with these charged species can exert significant effects on the synthesis, stability, and operation of superstructures in solution, rarely are the counterions considered, leading to misinterpretations and misunderstandings of the studied systems. In this tutorial review, we discuss a variety of solution-phase counterion effects, from the fundamental origins to innovative ways in which these effects are exploited for useful functions.
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