Strategies for the Construction of Supramolecular Compounds through Coordination Chemistry

Bradley J. Holliday, Chad A. Mirkin*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1722 Scopus citations


Synthetic organic chemists enjoy the luxury of having a large collection of reliable reactions at their disposal for preparing small molecules, mesoscopic structures, and polymers. Coordination chemists, on the other hand, are faced with the fact that transition metal chemistry, when normalized for the number of transition metals, has relatively few high-yielding reactions, when compared to the chemistry of carbon, for preparing even small molecule structures. This lack of control is manifested, in large part, in the weak metal-ligand interactions found in coordination complexes as compared with the strong covalent bonds in organic compounds. Weak bonding often translates into many reaction pathways that are not substantially different from an energetic point of view, and therefore, results in poor selectivity. As a result, many coordination chemists in recent years have come to the realization that it may be easier and more productive to develop straightforward and reliable routes to mesoscopic supramolecular structures by capitalizing on the modest collection of high-yielding reactions in coordination chemistry, the directional bonding afforded by metal centers, and strategies aimed at taking advantage of the weak metal bonds found in coordination complexes. Three emerging synthetic strategies, the symmetry-interaction, directional-bonding, and weak-link synthetic approaches, all use metal centers as structural building blocks to rationally assemble molecular components into supramolecular metallocyclophanes. These three approaches are discussed herein, and the fundamental principles underlying each as well as their capabilities are compared and contrasted.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2022-2043
Number of pages22
JournalAngewandte Chemie - International Edition
Issue number11
StatePublished - Jun 1 2001


  • Coordination chemistry
  • Nanostructures
  • Supramolecular chemistry
  • Synthetic methods
  • Transition metals

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • General Chemistry


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