Report

Boosted molecular mobility during common chemical reactions

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science  31 Jul 2020:
Vol. 369, Issue 6503, pp. 537-541
DOI: 10.1126/science.aba8425

You are currently viewing the abstract.

View Full Text

Log in to view the full text

Log in through your institution

Log in through your institution

Reactions give solvents a kick

During a chemical reaction, the reorganization of solvent molecules not directly in contact with reactants and products is normally viewed as a simple diffusion response. Wang et al. studied molecular diffusion in six common reactions—including the copper-catalyzed click reaction and the Diels-Alder reaction—with pulsed-field gradient nuclear magnetic resonance. They observed a boost in mobility relative to Brownian diffusion that was stronger for the catalyzed reactions that were studied. The mobilities for the click reaction were verified with a microfluidic gradient method. They argue that energy release produces transient translational motion of reacting centers that mechanically perturbs solvent molecules.

Science, this issue p. 537

Abstract

Mobility of reactants and nearby solvent is more rapid than Brownian diffusion during several common chemical reactions when the energy release rate exceeds a threshold. Screening a family of 15 organic chemical reactions, we demonstrate the largest boost for catalyzed bimolecular reactions, click chemistry, ring-opening metathesis polymerization, and Sonogashira coupling. Boosted diffusion is also observed but to lesser extent for the uncatalyzed Diels-Alder reaction, but not for substitution reactions SN1 and SN2 within instrumental resolution. Diffusion coefficient increases as measured by pulsed-field gradient nuclear magnetic resonance, whereas in microfluidics experiments, molecules in reaction gradients migrate “uphill” in the direction of lesser diffusivity. This microscopic consumption of energy by chemical reactions transduced into mechanical motion presents a form of active matter.

View Full Text

Stay Connected to Science