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Supramolecular Chemistry of Membranes

Supramolecular Aspects of Chemical Biology

  1. Gavin T. Noble1,
  2. Robert J. Mart2,
  3. Kwan Ping Liem1,
  4. Simon J. Webb1

Published Online: 15 MAR 2012

DOI: 10.1002/9780470661345.smc172

Supramolecular Chemistry: From Molecules to Nanomaterials

Supramolecular Chemistry: From Molecules to Nanomaterials

How to Cite

Noble, G. T., Mart, R. J., Liem, K. P. and Webb, S. J. 2012. Supramolecular Chemistry of Membranes. Supramolecular Chemistry: From Molecules to Nanomaterials. .

Author Information

  1. 1

    University of Manchester, Manchester, UK

  2. 2

    Cardiff University, Cardiff, UK

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 MAR 2012


Phospholipid bilayer membranes are more than just the delimiting boundaries of cells, they are home to some of the fundamental functions of living organisms, including respiration and photosynthesis. At the core of these complex and remarkably large self-assembled biological structures is the hydrophobic effect, which causes phospholipids to assemble into bilayers and form closed compartments. Although this elegant process is an area of keen study in its own right, much recent research into the supramolecular chemistry of biomembranes has targeted specific functions, such as signaling, catalysis, or transport. Replicating these cellular processes draws heavily on supramolecular principles and this review describes some of the key works that have progressed supramolecular research into biomembranes, with a focus on those systems developed in phospholipid bilayers. A brief discussion of the fundamental principles that govern biomembrane formation and behavior is provided, which aims to provide background material for researchers in supramolecular chemistry who wish to explore biomembrane chemistry in supramolecular chemistry. Case studies are then introduced to illustrate progress in different aspects of supramolecular membrane chemistry, namely, intramembrane recognition, intermembrane recognition, and reactivity at membranes.


  • membranes;
  • lipids;
  • vesicles;
  • self-assembly;
  • molecular recognition;
  • host–guest systems;
  • receptors