Elements of speed
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Chemical reactants regularly move through solvents far faster than normal diffusion would permit.
Typical ‘Brownian’ motion describes the regular diffusion of particles or chemicals through a solvent due to the buffeting effect of surrounding solvent molecules. But chemical reactants have been observed to exceed Brownian diffusion speeds under some special circumstances, such as enzyme biocatalysis.
Now, a team that included researchers from the Institute for Basic Science in South Korea has shown that such chemical speeding can also occur in a range of common chemical reactions.
Using a nuclear magnetic resonance technique to observe 15 well-known reactions, the researchers observed several reactions — including catalysed bimolecular reactions, ring-opening metathesis polymerization and Sonogashira coupling — that involved a speed boost.
The phenomenon is probably due to the energy released by the reaction, causing broad-scale perturbation to the structure of solvent molecules surrounding the reactants. The results provide new insights into the conversion of chemical activity into mechanical motion.
- Science 369, 537–541 (2020). doi: 10.1126/science.aba8425
|Center for Soft and Living Matter, IBS, South Korea||0.64|
|Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST), South Korea||0.36|