skip to main content


The NSF Public Access Repository (NSF-PAR) system and access will be unavailable from 10:00 PM ET on Friday, December 8 until 2:00 AM ET on Saturday, December 9 due to maintenance. We apologize for the inconvenience.

Title: Critical stresses in mechanochemical reactions
The rates of mechanochemical reactions are generally found to increase exponentially with applied stress. However, a buckling theory analysis of the effect of a normal stress on an adsorbate that is oriented perpendicularly to the surface that reacts by tilting suggests that a critical value of the stress should be required to initiate a mechanochemical reaction. This concept is verified by using density functional theory calculations to simulate the effect of compressing a homologous series of alkyl thiolate species on copper by a hydrogen-terminated copper counter-face. This predicts that a critical stress is indeed needed to initiate methyl thiolate decomposition, which has a perpendicular C–CH 3 bond. In contrast, no critical stress is found for ethyl thiolate with an almost horizontal C–CH 3 bond, while a critical stress is required to isomerize propyl thiolate from a trans to a cis configuration. These predictions are tested by measuring the mechanochemical reaction rates of these alkyl thiolates on a Cu(100) substrate by sliding an atomic force microscope tip over the surface and finding a critical stress of ∼0.43 GPa for methyl thiolate, ∼0.33 GPa for propyl thiolate, but no evidence of a critical stress for ethyl thiolate, in accord with the predictions. These results provide insights not only into mechanochemical reaction mechanisms on surfaces, but also on the origin of critical phenomena in stress-induced processes in general. It also suggests novel approaches to designing robust surface films that can resist wear and damage.  more » « less
Award ID(s):
Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ; ;
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Chemical Science
Page Range / eLocation ID:
12651 to 12658
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Mechanochemical reaction pathways are conventionally obtained from force-displaced stationary points on the potential energy surface of the reaction. This work tests a postulate that the steepest-descent pathway (SDP) from the transition state to reactants can be reasonably accurately used instead to investigate mechanochemical reaction kinetics. This method is much simpler because the SDP and the associated reactant and transition-state structures can be obtained relatively routinely. Experiment and theory are compared for the normal-stress-induced decomposition of methyl thiolate species on Cu(100). The mechanochemical reaction rate was calculated by compressing the initial- and transition-state structures by a stiff copper counter-slab to obtain the plots of energy versus slab displacement for both structures. The reaction rate was also measured experimentally under compression using a nanomechanochemical reactor comprising an atomic-force-microscopy (AFM) instrument tip compressing a methyl thiolate overlayer on Cu(100) (the same system for which the calculations were carried out). The rate was measured from the indent created on a defect-free region of the methyl thiolate overlayer, which also enabled the contact area to be measured. Knowing the force applied by the AFM tip yields the reaction rate as a function of the contact stress. The result agrees well with the theoretical prediction without the use of adjustable parameters. This confirms that the postulate is correct and will facilitate the calculation of the rates of more complex mechanochemical reactions. An advantage of this approach, in addition to the results agreeing with the experiment, is that it provides insights into the effects that control mechanochemical reactivity that will assist in the targeted design of new mechanochemical syntheses. 
    more » « less
  2. null (Ed.)
    The addition of tert -butyl hydroperoxide ( t BuOOH) to two structurally related Mn II complexes containing N,N -bis(6-methyl-2-pyridylmethyl)ethane-1,2-diamine (6-Me-DPEN) and N,N -bis(6-methyl-2-pyridylmethyl)propane-1,2-diamine (6-Me-DPPN) results in the formation of high-valent bis-oxo complexes, namely di-μ-oxido-bis{[ N , N -bis(6-methyl-2-pyridylmethyl)ethane-1,2-diamine]manganese(II)}( Mn — Mn ) bis(tetraphenylborate) dihydrate, [Mn(C 16 H 22 N 4 ) 2 O 2 ](C 24 H 20 B) 2 ·2H 2 O or {[Mn IV (N 4 (6-Me-DPEN))] 2 ( μ -O) 2 }(2BPh 4 )(2H 2 O) ( 1 ) and di-μ-oxido-bis{[ N , N -bis(6-methyl-2-pyridylmethyl)propane-1,3-diamine]manganese(II)}( Mn — Mn ) bis(tetraphenylborate) diethyl ether disolvate, [Mn(C 17 H 24 N 4 ) 2 O 2 ](C 24 H 20 B) 2 ·2C 4 H 10 O or {[Mn IV (N 4 (6-MeDPPN))] 2 ( μ -O) 2 }(2BPh 4 )(2Et 2 O) ( 2 ). Complexes 1 and 2 both contain the `diamond core' motif found previously in a number of iron, copper, and manganese high-valent bis-oxo compounds. The flexibility in the propyl linker in the ligand scaffold of 2 , as compared to that of the ethyl linker in 1 , results in more elongated Mn—N bonds, as one would expect. The Mn—Mn distances and Mn—O bond lengths support an Mn IV oxidation state assignment for the Mn ions in both 1 and 2 . The angles around the Mn centers are consistent with the local pseudo-octahedral geometry. 
    more » « less
  3. Abstract Selective conversion of methane (CH 4 ) into value-added chemicals represents a grand challenge for the efficient utilization of rising hydrocarbon sources. We report here dimeric copper centers supported on graphitic carbon nitride (denoted as Cu 2 @C 3 N 4 ) as advanced catalysts for CH 4 partial oxidation. The copper-dimer catalysts demonstrate high selectivity for partial oxidation of methane under both thermo- and photocatalytic reaction conditions, with hydrogen peroxide (H 2 O 2 ) and oxygen (O 2 ) being used as the oxidizer, respectively. In particular, the photocatalytic oxidation of CH 4 with O 2 achieves >10% conversion, and >98% selectivity toward methyl oxygenates and a mass-specific activity of 1399.3 mmol g Cu −1 h −1 . Mechanistic studies reveal that the high reactivity of Cu 2 @C 3 N 4 can be ascribed to symphonic mechanisms among the bridging oxygen, the two copper sites and the semiconducting C 3 N 4 substrate, which do not only facilitate the heterolytic scission of C-H bond, but also promotes H 2 O 2 and O 2 activation in thermo- and photocatalysis, respectively. 
    more » « less
  4. Abstract

    Copper‐exchanged zeolites are useful for stepwise conversion of methane to methanol at moderate temperatures. This process also generates some over‐oxidation products like CO and CO2. However, mechanistic pathways for methane over‐oxidation by copper‐oxo active sites in these zeolites have not been previously described. Adequate understanding of methane over‐oxidation is useful for developing systems with higher methanol yields and selectivities. Here, we use density functional theory (DFT) to examine methane over‐oxidation by [Cu3O3]2+active sites in zeolite mordenite MOR. The methyl group formed after activation of a methane C−H bond can be stabilized at a μ‐oxo atom of the active site. This μ‐(O−CH3) intermediate can undergo sequential hydrogen atom abstractions till eventual formation of a copper‐monocarbonyl species. Adsorbed formaldehyde, water and formates are also formed during this process. The overall mechanistic path is exothermic, and all intermediate steps are facile at 200 °C. Release of CO from the copper‐monocarbonyl costs only 3.4 kcal/mol. Thus, for high methanol selectivities, the methyl group from the first hydrogen atom abstraction stepmust bestabilizedawayfrom copper‐oxo active sites. Indeed, it must be quickly trapped at an unreactive site (short diffusion lengths) while avoiding copper‐oxo species (large paths between active sites). This stabilization of the methyl group away from the active sites is central to the high methanol selectivities obtained with stepwise methane‐to‐methanol conversion.

    more » « less
  5. The insertion of carbon dioxide into metal element σ-bonds is an important elementary step in many catalytic reactions for carbon dioxide valorization. Here, the insertion of carbon dioxide into a family of group 10 alkyl complexes of the type ( R PBP)M(CH 3 ) ( R PBP = B(NCH 2 PR 2 ) 2 C 6 H 4 − ; R = Cy or t Bu; M = Ni or Pd) to generate κ 1 -acetate complexes of the form ( R PBP)M{OC(O)CH 3 } is investigated. This involved the preparation and characterization of a number of new complexes supported by the unusual R PBP ligand, which features a central boryl donor that exerts a strong trans -influence, and the identification of a new decomposition pathway that results in C–B bond formation. In contrast to other group 10 methyl complexes supported by pincer ligands, carbon dioxide insertion into ( R PBP)M(CH 3 ) is facile and occurs at room temperature because of the high trans -influence of the boryl donor. Given the mild conditions for carbon dioxide insertion, we perform a rare kinetic study on carbon dioxide insertion into a late-transition metal alkyl species using ( t Bu PBP)Pd(CH 3 ). These studies demonstrate that the Dimroth–Reichardt parameter for a solvent correlates with the rate of carbon dioxide insertion and that Lewis acids do not promote insertion. DFT calculations indicate that insertion into ( t Bu PBP)M(CH 3 ) (M = Ni or Pd) proceeds via an S E 2 mechanism and we compare the reaction pathway for carbon dioxide insertion into group 10 methyl complexes with insertion into group 10 hydrides. Overall, this work provides fundamental insight that will be valuable for the development of improved and new catalysts for carbon dioxide utilization. 
    more » « less