Stefan Matile and co-workers describe their recent results on synthetic multifunctional pores on p. 169. In Nature, pores are used to transport materials across cellular membranes. Synthetic pores, such as the one shown on the cover, can be used for molecular recognition, leading to applications such as hosting, sensing, or catalysis. The authors argue that demonstration of function is not enough to confirm that synthetic pores work as designed: structural studies and molecular modeling provide complementary, yet vital, information.
This account summarizes five years of research devoted to the development of the concept of synthetic multifunctional pores. The objective is to complement a comprehensive graphical summary of molecular recognition with a survey of structural studies on the same topic. The relevance of the latter for research focusing on creation and application of supramolecular functional materials is discussed briefly in a subjective manner.