The work shows that molecules colliding on a surface at chemically-relevant energies (tunable in the range of 0—50 eV) experience motions that cause selective conformation changes and mechanochemical reactions. These dynamics are caused by the compression of the molecules as they encounter the surface at high speeds and come to a sudden halt. The approach offers a general way to explore the conformation space and the mechanochemical reactions of any molecules that can be electrosprayed.
About the JACS Cover
Soft-collision of a carbohydrate molecule from the gas-phase onto a surface accesses many conformations of the molecule. Imaging these adsorbed conformers using scanning tunneling microscopy reveals the folding and the physical properties of carbohydrate oligomers at the single molecule level.
This work is a close collaboration with the recently-appointed University of Oxford Newton-Abraham Visiting Professor and Max Planck Director Peter H. Seeberger.
Read the paper in the Journal of the American Chemical Society
The Physical Review Letters publication was featured in a viewpoint article entitled 'Selective Bond Breaking with Splat Chemistry' in Physics, the online magazine of the American Physical Society.