June 17, 2013

Sometimes less is more

RUB researchers unmask Janus-faced nature of mechanical forces with the Jülich supercomputer

Nature Chemistry: reaction speed does not always increase in proportion to the applied force

The harder you pull, the quicker it goes. At least, that used to be the rule in mechanochemistry, a method that researchers apply to set chemical reactions in motion by means of mechanical forces. However, as chemists led by Professor Dominik Marx, Chair of Theoretical Chemistry at the Ruhr-Universität Bochum now report in the journal “Nature Chemistry”, more force cannot in fact be translated one to one into a faster reaction. With complex molecular dynamic simulations on the Jülich supercomputer “JUQUEEN” they unmasked the Janus-faced nature of mechanochemistry. Up to a certain force, the reaction rate increases in proportion to the force. If this threshold is exceeded, greater mechanical forces speed up the reaction to a much lesser extent.