Research & Teaching Faculty

Default Header Image

Highly Covalent Ferric-Thiolate Bonds Exhibit Surprisingly Low Mechanical Stability

TitleHighly Covalent Ferric-Thiolate Bonds Exhibit Surprisingly Low Mechanical Stability
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2011
AuthorsZheng, P, Li, H
Date PublishedMAY 4

Depending on their nature, different chemical bonds show vastly different stability with covalent bonds being the most stable ones that rupture at forces above nanonewton. Studies have revealed that ferric-thiolate bonds are highly covalent and are conceived to be of high mechanical stability. Here, we used single molecule force spectroscopy techniques to directly determine the mechanical strength of such highly covalent ferric-thiolate bonds in rubredoxin. We observed that the ferric-thiolate bond ruptures at surprisingly low forces of similar to 200 pN, significantly lower than that of typical covalent bonds, such as C-Si, S-S, and Au-thiolate bonds, which typically ruptures at > 1.5 nN. And the mechanical strength of Fe-thiolate bonds is observed to correlate with the covalency of the bonds. Our results indicated that highly covalent Fe-thiolate bonds are mechanically labile and display features that clearly distinguish themselves from typical covalent bonds. Our study not only opens new avenues to investigating this important class of chemical bonds, but may also shed new lights on our understanding of the chemical nature of these metal thiolate bonds.