Making crystals by design. Methods, techniques and applications

Making crystals by design. Methods, techniques and applications 

D Braga and F Grepioni (eds) 

Weinheim, Germany: Wiley-VCH | 2007 | 362pp | ?100 (HB) | ISBN 9783527315062 

Reviewed by Simon Parsons

This book aims to provide an overview of recent advances in crystal engineering, and it will serve as a valuable introduction to new graduate students or other researchers new to the field. It opens with a discussion by Angelo Gavezzotti of his PIXEL method for evaluation of inter-molecular interaction energies. In my opinion this is one of the most important theoretical advances in recent years, enabling non-experts to obtain packing energies broken down into chemically meaningful terms.  

The following chapter collects useful data from other theoretical methods (particularly intermolecular perturbation theory), but unlike the first chapter, all the energies are expressed in kcal/mol, so inter-conversion is constantly necessary. This chapter also contains assertions which some readers will find eccentric: for example, that hydrogen bonds cannot exist between like-charged entities. This idea is exemplified by a contact between two hydrogen-oxalate anions (-OOC-COOH.-OOC-COOH) which is so clearly a hydrogen bond that I would have expected to find it in the Observer’s book of hydrogen bonds

The techniques chapters are excellent, emphasizing interpretation over theoretical details. Reactions which occur within the solid state and framework structures are covered, reflecting current ’green’ trends in crystal engineering. Assembly of organic molecular solids via a synthon-based approach is also discussed, though it is a pity that the very powerful and reproducible metal-based synthons developed by Guy Orpen and his group do not appear to be covered. 

Overall, readers will find this an engaging snapshot of current activity in the area.