Intermolecular interactions in molecular crystals: what's in a name?

Alison J. Edwards, Campbell F. Mackenzie, Peter R. Spackman, Dylan Jayatilaka, Mark A. Spackman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

114 Citations (Scopus)
187 Downloads (Pure)


Structure-property relationships are the key to modern crystal engineering, and for molecular crystals this requires both a thorough understanding of intermolecular interactions, and the subsequent use of this to create solids with desired properties. There has been a rapid increase in publications aimed at furthering this understanding, especially the importance of non-canonical interactions such as halogen, chalcogen, pnicogen, and tetrel bonds. Here we show how all of these interactions - and hydrogen bonds - can be readily understood through their common origin in the redistribution of electron density that results from chemical bonding. This redistribution is directly linked to the molecular electrostatic potential, to qualitative concepts such as electrostatic complementarity, and to the calculation of quantitative intermolecular interaction energies. Visualization of these energies, along with their electrostatic and dispersion components, sheds light on the architecture of molecular crystals, in turn providing a link to actual crystal properties.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)93-112
Number of pages20
JournalFaraday Discussions
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2017


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