Generalizing metallocene mechanochemistry to ruthenocene mechanophores†
Recent reports have shown that ferrocene displays an unexpected combination of force-free stability and mechanochemical activity, as it acts as the preferred site of chain scission along the backbone of highly extended polymer chains. This observation raises the tantalizing question as to whether similar mechanochemical activity might be present in other metallocenes, and, if so, what features of metallocenes dictate their relative ability to act as mechanophores. In this work, we elucidate polymerization methodologies towards main-chain ruthenocene-based polymers and explore the mechanochemistry of ruthenocene. We find that ruthenocene, in analogy to ferrocene, acts as a highly selective site of main chain scission despite the fact that it is even more inert. A comparison of ruthenocene and ferrocene reactivity provides insights as to the possible origins of metallocene mechanochemistry, including the relative importance of structural and thermodynamic parameters such as bond length and bond dissociation energy. These results suggest that metallocenes might be privileged mechanophores through which highly inert coordination complexes can be made dynamic in a stimuli-responsive fashion, offering potential opportunities in dynamic metallo-supramolecular materials and in mechanochemical routes to reactive intermediates that are otherwise difficult to obtain.