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Boosted molecular mobility during common chemical reactions

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

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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

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