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Keywords:

  • hydrogen bonds;
  • self organization;
  • solid-state structures
  • Crystal engineering;
  • Hydrogen bonds;
  • Self organization;
  • Solid-state structures

Abstract

Whereas much of organic chemistry has classically dealt with the preparation and study of the properties of individual molecules, an increasingly significant portion of the activity in chemical research involves understanding and utilizing the nature of the interactions between molecules. Two representative areas of this evolution are supramolecular chemistry and molecular recognition. The interactions between molecules are governed by intermolecular forces whose energetic and geometric properties are much less well understood than those of classical chemical bonds between atoms. Among the strongest of these interactions, however, are hydrogen bonds, whose directional properties are better understood on the local level (that is, for a single hydrogen bond) than many other types of non-bonded interactions. Nevertheless, the means by which to characterize, understand, and predict the consequences of many hydrogen bonds among molecules, and the resulting formation of molecular aggregates (on the microscopic scale) or crystals (on the macroscopic scale) has remained largely enigmatic. One of the most promising systematic approaches to resolving this enigma was initially developed by the late M. C. Etter, who applied graph theory to recognize, and then utilize, patterns of hydrogen bonding for the understanding and design of molecular crystals. In working with Etter's original ideas the power and potential utility of this approach on one hand, and on the other, the need to develop and extend the initial Etter formalism was generally recognized. It with that latter purpose that we originally undertook the present review.