Stimuli-responsive polymers that release small molecules under mechanical stress are appealing targets for applications ranging from drug delivery to sensing. Here, we describe a modular mechanophore design platform for molecular release via a mechanically triggered cascade reaction. Mechanochemical activation of a furan-maleimide Diels-Alder adduct reveals a latent furfuryl carbonate that subsequently decomposes under mild conditions to release a covalently bound cargo molecule. The computationally guided design of a reactive secondary furfuryl carbonate enables the decomposition and release to proceed quickly at room temperature after unmasking via mechanical force. This general strategy is demonstrated using ultrasound-induced mechanical activation to release a fluorogenic coumarin payload from a polymer incorporating a chain-centered mechanophore.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- General Chemistry
- Colloid and Surface Chemistry