Saturday, May 09, 2009

Colour-changing mechanophores

The recent Nature publication shows that one can literally see a mechanically-induced ring-opening reaction.
Previously, we have shown with dissolved polymer strands incorporating mechanically sensitive chemical groups — so-called mechanophores — that the directional nature of mechanical forces can selectively break and re-form covalent bonds. We now demonstrate that such force-induced covalent-bond activation can also be realized with mechanophore-linked elastomeric and glassy polymers, by using a mechanophore that changes colour as it undergoes a reversible electrocyclic ring-opening reaction under tensile stress and thus allows us to directly and locally visualize the mechanochemical reaction. We find that pronounced changes in colour and fluorescence emerge with the accumulation of plastic deformation, indicating that in these polymeric materials the transduction of mechanical force into the ring-opening reaction is an activated process.
I guess we have to introduce a new ChEBI role: mechanophore.

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