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Phys Rev Lett. 2013 Mar 8;110(10):105701. Epub 2013 Mar 4.

Statistical mechanics approach to lock-key supramolecular chemistry interactions.

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Programa de Ingeniería Molecular, Instituto Mexicano del Petróleo, Eje Central Lázaro Cárdenas 152, 07730 México DF, Mexico.


In the supramolecular chemistry field, intuitive concepts such as molecular complementarity and molecular recognition are used to explain the mechanism of lock-key associations. However, these concepts lack a precise definition, and consequently this mechanism is not well defined and understood. Here we address the physical basis of this mechanism, based on formal statistical mechanics, through Monte Carlo simulation and compare our results with recent experimental data for charged or uncharged lock-key colloids. We find that, given the size range of the molecules involved in these associations, the entropy contribution, driven by the solvent, rules the interaction, over that of the enthalpy. A universal behavior for the uncharged lock-key association is found. Based on our results, we propose a supramolecular chemistry definition.

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