Designed more than thirty years ago in order to improve and maximize the discrimination capability of native polysaccharides, cellulose- and amylose-based selectors have shown excellent and unequalled performances for the enantioseparation of chiral compounds. The successful story of these chiral selectors relies on a multi-site high-ordered chiral platform which is held up by intramolecular hydrogen bonds (HBs), and makes the polymer able to host and discriminate enantiomers. In this environment, both achiral and stereoselective intermolecular noncovalent interactions play a pivotal role, and HBs, halogen bonds (XBs), dipole-dipole, π-π stacking, steric repulsive, and van der Waals interactions underlie adsorption process and formation of transient diastereomeric assemblies between the polymer and the enantiomer pair. In the last decades, advances in computational chemistry and spectroscopic techniques have improved knowledge of noncovalent interactions, contributing to decode their functions in chemical systems. Significantly, over time the growing interplay between experimental and theoretical approaches has contributed to unravel intermolecular forces underlying selector-selectand association and to understand recognition patterns. On this basis, this review summarizes seminal and representative studies dealing with noncovalent interactions that function in HPLC enantioseparations promoted by cellulose benzoates and phenylcarbamates of amylose and cellulose. The importance of integrating theoretical and experimental approaches to profile mechanisms and interaction patterns is highlighted by discussing focused case studies. In particular, the advantageous utilization of electrostatic potential (V) analysis and molecular dynamics (MD) simulations in this field is evidenced. A systematic compilation of all published literature has not been attempted.
Keywords: Chiral recognition High-performance liquid chromatography Molecular modelling Noncovalent interactions Polysaccharide-based chiral stationary phases