The University of Southampton

CHEM6104 Supramolecular Chemistry

Module Overview

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

The aims of the module are: • to provide an introduction and overview of the core concepts in supramolecular chemistry: non-covalent bonding, host-guest chemistry, per-organisation. • to give a research led overview of current state-of-the-art in synthesis and application of supramolecular chemistry, using selected examples from the literature. • to give the students awareness of the wider aspects of chemistry by combining organic, inorganic, coordination and biological chemistry for the creation of functional entities, which arise from the designed interaction of small molecules.

Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Discuss the role of supramolecular chemistry in organic chemistry, chemical biology, materials science and nanotechnology.
  • Explain non-covalent interactions, molecular recognition and self-assembly.
  • Write short descriptions of some of the applications of supramolecular chemistry, including in dynamic combinatorial chemistry, materials chemistry (e.g. soft materials), biological systems and the construction of nanoscale entities.


The syllabus, which is described in outline below, is aligned with the following QAA benchmark statements for chemistry at FHEQ Level 7 (Masters). • to extend students' comprehension of key chemical concepts and so provide them with an in-depth understanding of specialised areas of chemistry; • to develop in students the ability to adapt and apply methodology to the solution of unfamiliar types of problems; • to instill a critical awareness of advances at the forefront of the chemical science discipline; • to prepare students effectively for professional employment or doctoral studies in the chemical sciences; • the ability to adapt and apply methodology to the solution of unfamiliar problems; • knowledge base extends to a systematic understanding and critical awareness of topics which are informed by the forefront of the discipline; • problems of an unfamiliar nature are tackled with appropriate methodology and taking into account the possible absence of complete data. This unit is a research led course with many examples coming from the recent literature in each area. It will include elements of synthesis, coordination chemistry, physical chemistry and materials chemistry. • Concepts – Overview of intermolecular forces. What is supramolecular chemistry? Thermodymanics of molecular recognition, solvation. • Techniques – How are molecular interactions measured? • Molecular Recognition: Cations – Historical development of supramolecualr chemistry from the work of Cram, Lehn and Pedersen. Preorganisation. • Molecular Recognition: Anions – Interaction used to bind anions: hydrogen bonding, electrostatic interactions, Lewis Acids. Hofmeister series. • Molecular Recognition: Neutral guests – Hydrophobic interactions, hydrogen bonding. Historical examples. Ion-pair recognition. • Supramolecular reactivity – Organocatalysis mediated through hydrogen bonding, preconcentration, self-assembly of catalysts and preorganisation of catalyst-substrate systems. Influence of organisation (effective molarity) on catalysis. • Supramolecular aspects of chemical biology using natural systems (DNA, peptides) and their chemical modification to introduce further functionalities. • Self assembly of complex structures – from cages to metal-organic frameworks, interlocked molecules and molecular machines, dynamic combinatorial chemistry. • Self processes – Self-assembly (strategies to synthesise interlocked molecules), dynamic combinatorial chemistry.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching methods: Lectures, directed reading, Bb online support. Learning methods: Independent study, student motivated peer group study, student driven tutor support

Practical classes and workshops4
Follow-up work29
Preparation for scheduled sessions20
Total study time75

Resources & Reading list

P.A. Gale and J.W. Steed (Eds) (2012). Supramolecular Chemistry: from molecules to nanomaterials. 

F. Diederich, P. J. Stang, R. T. Tykwinski (2008). Modern Supramolecular Chemistry. 

J. W. Steed, D. R. Turner, K. J. Wallace (2007). Core Concepts in Supramolecular Chemistry and Nanochemistry. 

J.W. Steed and J.L. Atwood (2011). Supramolecular Chemistry. 



MethodPercentage contribution
Examination  (1 hours) 100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Examination  (1 hours) 100%

Linked modules

CHEM3037 or CHEM6094

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