The hydrogen bond is a unique phenomenon in both structural chemistry and structural biology. Its fundamental importance lies in its role in molecular association. Its functional importance stems from both thermodynamic and kinetic reasons. In supramolecular chemistry, the hydrogen bond is able to control and direct the structures of molecular assemblies because it is sufficiently strong and sufficiently directional. In this introductory chapter, a historical background of the hydrogen bond is presented. The geometrical parameters and definitions of a hydrogen bond are then discussed, along with energetic parameters and definitions, the weak or non-conventional hydrogen bond, classification of hydrogen bonds, the nature of the hydrogen bond interaction and its limits, differences between strong and weak hydrogen bonds, and methods of studying weak hydrogen bonds including crystal structure analysis, vibrational spectroscopy, gas-phase rotational spectroscopy, and computation.
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