Mechanochemistry of a helical metal-ligand complex

How to Apply

Interested in participating in this research project? Contact the professor or graduate student listed below.


Dr. Junpeng Wang (Polymer Science) |

Graduate Student

Junfeng Zhou |

Project Description

Mechanical stress is ubiquitously present in materials and biological systems, and the force-induced bond scission and materials failure have been extensively studied. In recent years, utilizing mechanical force to do targeted and constructive chemistry, largely fueled by the concept of mechanophore, i.e., stress-responsive moiety, has become a new trend. In general, mechanophore has rendered two aspects of innovations: new force-induced chemistry and new materials. The new chemistry includes biasing reaction pathways, trapping transition states, releasing protons and small molecules, converting insulating polymers into semiconducting ones, etc. The innovation in materials part includes stress-reporting materials and self-healing materials. Despite the developments, the two parts are mostly separated in that many of the force-induced chemistry demonstrated in solution cannot be realized in bulk materials. An important reason is that the stress in polymer network is not evenly distributed and most polymer chains don’t experience the force that is required to activate the mechanophores. Recent work by the Weder group has shown that replacing the covalent mechanophores with noncovalent ones can significantly improve the sensitivity of the stress sensors. Inspired by this, we set out to develop mecahnophores that involves metal-ligand coordination. In this project, we will explore the feasibility of using a helix structure that constitutes metal-ligand coordination as the mechanophore. We will synthesize the helical complex, incorporate it into polymers and study its mechanochemical activation in both solution and bulk materials. The students will learn skills including orgnic/polymer synthesis, molecule/polymer characterization, single-molecule force spectroscopy, tensile testing, etc.

Project Date

Fall 2019

Search Terms

Advanced Materials, Biomedical, Biomimicry, Corrosion, Sustainability, For Credit, Non-Credit, Funded, Non-Funded, STEM