Späth, Andreas and König, Burkhard
Molecular recognition of organic ammonium ions in solution using synthetic receptors.
Beilstein Journal of Organic Chemistry 6 (32).
Ammonium ions are ubiquitous in chemistry and molecular biology. Considerable efforts have been undertaken to develop synthetic receptors for their selective molecular recognition. The type of host compounds for organic ammonium ion binding span a wide range from crown ethers to calixarenes to metal complexes. Typical intermolecular interactions are hydrogen bonds, electrostatic and cation-pi interactions, hydrophobic interactions or reversible covalent bond formation. In this review we discuss the different classes of synthetic receptors for organic ammonium ion recognition and illustrate the scope and limitations of each class with selected examples from the recent literature. The molecular recognition of ammonium ions in amino acids is included and the enantioselective binding of chiral ammonium ions by synthetic receptors is also covered. In our conclusion we compare the strengths and weaknesses of the different types of ammonium ion receptors which may help to select the best approach for specific applications.