Experimentally realized mechanochemistry distinct from force-accelerated scission of loaded bonds
Stretching polymer chains accelerates dissociation of a variety of internal covalent bonds, to an extent that correlates well with the force experienced by the scissile bond. Recent theory has also predicted scenarios in which applied force accelerates dissociation of unloaded bonds and kinetically strengthens strained bonds. We report here unambiguous experimental validation of this hypothesis: Detailed kinetic measurements demonstrate that stretching phosphotriesters accelerates dissociation of the unloaded phosphorus-oxygen bond orthogonal to the pulling axis, whereas stretching organosiloxanes inhibits dissociation of the aligned loaded silicon-oxygen bonds. Qualitatively, the outcome is determined by phosphoester elongation and siloxane contraction along the pulling axis in the respective rate-determining transition states. Quantitatively, the results agree with a simple mechanochemical kinetics model.