Bridging pico-to-nanonewtons with a ratiometric force probe for monitoring nanoscale polymer physics before damage

Ryota Kotani, Soichi Yokoyama, Shunpei Nobusue, Shigehiro Yamaguchi, Atsuhiro Osuka, Hiroshi Yabu, Shohei Saito

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Understanding the transmission of nanoscale forces in the pico-to-nanonewton range is important in polymer physics. While physical approaches have limitations in analyzing the local force distribution in condensed environments, chemical analysis using force probes is promising. However, there are stringent requirements for probing the local forces generated before structural damage. The magnitude of those forces corresponds to the range below covalent bond scission (from 200 pN to several nN) and above thermal fluctuation (several pN). Here, we report a conformationally flexible dual-fluorescence force probe with a theoretically estimated threshold of approximately 100 pN. This probe enables ratiometric analysis of the distribution of local forces in a stretched polymer chain network. Without changing the intrinsic properties of the polymer, the force distribution was reversibly monitored in real time. Chemical control of the probe location demonstrated that the local stress concentration is twice as biased at crosslinkers than at main chains, particularly in a strain-hardening region. Due to the high sensitivity, the percentage of the stressed force probes was estimated to be more than 1000 times higher than the activation rate of a conventional mechanophore.

Original languageEnglish
Article number303
JournalNature communications
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2022 Dec

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • General
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Bridging pico-to-nanonewtons with a ratiometric force probe for monitoring nanoscale polymer physics before damage'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this