Cation–π interaction is a noncovalent molecular interaction between the face of an electron-rich π system (e.g. benzene, ethylene, acetylene) and an adjacent cation (e.g. Li+, Na+). This interaction is an example of noncovalent bonding between a monopole (cation) and a quadrupole (π system). Bonding energies are significant, with solution-phase values falling within the same order of magnitude as hydrogen bonds and salt bridges. Similar to these other non-covalent bonds, cation–π interactions play an important role in nature, particularly in protein structure, molecular recognition and enzyme catalysis. The effect has also been observed and put to use in synthetic systems.