Experimentally realized mechanochemistry distinct from force-accelerated scission of loaded bonds

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Science  21 Jul 2017:
Vol. 357, Issue 6348, pp. 299-303
DOI: 10.1126/science.aan1026

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Pulling on bonds counterintuitively

Experimental mechanochemistry has largely focused on the application of force along chemical bonds to accelerate their cleavage. Akbulatov et al. now demonstrate that force can also play a more subtle role. They generated strained macrocyclic rings photochemically and then studied the influence of that strain on the rates of reactions that cleaved either phosphorus-oxygen or silicon-oxygen bonds. P-O cleavage was accelerated by force orthogonal to the bond axis, whereas the Si-O cleavage was inhibited by force along the bond. Both results were consistent with the respective transition states predicted by theory.

Science, this issue p. 299


Stretching polymer chains accelerates dissociation of a variety of internal covalent bonds, to an extent that correlates well with the force experienced by the scissile bond. Recent theory has also predicted scenarios in which applied force accelerates dissociation of unloaded bonds and kinetically strengthens strained bonds. We report here unambiguous experimental validation of this hypothesis: Detailed kinetic measurements demonstrate that stretching phosphotriesters accelerates dissociation of the unloaded phosphorus-oxygen bond orthogonal to the pulling axis, whereas stretching organosiloxanes inhibits dissociation of the aligned loaded silicon-oxygen bonds. Qualitatively, the outcome is determined by phosphoester elongation and siloxane contraction along the pulling axis in the respective rate-determining transition states. Quantitatively, the results agree with a simple mechanochemical kinetics model.

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