Breaking a dative bond with mechanical forces

Pengcheng Chen, Dingxin Fan, Yunlong Zhang, Annabella Selloni, Emily A. Carter, Craig B. Arnold, David C. Dankworth, Steven P. Rucker, James R. Chelikowsky, Nan Yao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Bond breaking and forming are essential components of chemical reactions. Recently, the structure and formation of covalent bonds in single molecules have been studied by non-contact atomic force microscopy (AFM). Here, we report the details of a single dative bond breaking process using non-contact AFM. The dative bond between carbon monoxide and ferrous phthalocyanine was ruptured via mechanical forces applied by atomic force microscope tips; the process was quantitatively measured and characterized both experimentally and via quantum-based simulations. Our results show that the bond can be ruptured either by applying an attractive force of ~150 pN or by a repulsive force of ~220 pN with a significant contribution of shear forces, accompanied by changes of the spin state of the system. Our combined experimental and computational studies provide a deeper understanding of the chemical bond breaking process.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number5635
JournalNature communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Chemistry
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Physics and Astronomy


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