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Soft Molecular and Supramolecular Materials

Soft Molecular and Supramolecular Materials

In chemistry the term "soft materials" is used to emphasize weak bonding between molecular species. In soft materials the molecules are held together by non-valent interactions: van der Waals forces, hydrogen bonds, weak coordination and so on. Such materials can instantly form through the process of self-assembly (aka "the bottom-up approach" in nanochemistry) once conditions are suitable and easily transform into various forms when these external conditions change. In spite of weak bonding, the molecules usually build a highly organized, often sophisticated, structure. Soft supramolecular materials display an interplay of molecules of two or more different types combined in a complex but regular architecture. Well-known examples of soft materials are molecular and liquid crystals, many types of inclusion compounds, co-crystals, dendrimers, fibrils and fibers, and gels.


Supramolecular organization in two different inclusion compounds formed by the same host-guest pair (host molecules shown in blue).
Left: beta-[Ni(NCS)2(4-MePy)4]*(C6H6); guest benzene molecules are located in a 3D system of zig-zag channels (blue tetragonal crystals).
Right: gamma-[Ni(NCS)2(4-MePy)4]*2(C6H6); guest benzene molecules are located in a layer (2D cavity space) (violet monoclinic crystals)


beta-pic gamma-pic