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Keywords:

  • Crown compounds;
  • Nobel lecture;
  • Macrocycles

The founders of “supramolecular chemistry” include Charles J. Pedersen, Donald J. Cram, and Jean-Marie Lehn, who shared the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1987 for their fundamental research in this area of organic chemistry. Their work focused the attention of many chemists on the cavities formed by certain types of molecules. Cations, anions, or neutral molecules can enter the cavities of specifically designed compounds and are held there by inter-molecular forces. It is fully justified, therefore, to compare such compounds to biomolecules. How the development began, how it achieved its first successes, and what fascinating possibilities lie in store for future research are discussed by Pedersen and Cram in this issue and by Lehn in the January issue (page 89 ff.). The most recent results from Lehn's research are also reported, appropriately, in this issue.