Research & Teaching Faculty

Twist and Shout: Single-Molecule Mechanochemistry

TitleTwist and Shout: Single-Molecule Mechanochemistry
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsLi, H, Walker, GC
Date PublishedJAN

Chemical reactions can be accelerated by various means, including applied mechanical forces. If the direction of the force does not project well onto the desired reaction coordinate, then only poor acceleration is achieved. Recent developments in single polymer mechanics illustrate how to overcome this limitation, in a simple cis-trans isomerization reaction. Generalizing the approach, synthetic chemistry can be used to attach tethers to different parts of reacting molecular fragments to direct the force usefully. This Perspective explores the prospects for using applied mechanical forces to create exciting new chemistries. For example, it is possible to imagine making polymers that sense mechanical forces within hard-to-reach places, like biological cells, or using mechanical forces to make nanoscale electrical devices using conjugated polymers.