Sulfenyl Chlorides: An Alternative Monomer Feedstock from Elemental Sulfur for Polymer Synthesis

Dec. 7, 2022
reaction scheme of sulfur monochloride (S2Cl2) reaction with diolefins to produce polyhalodisulfides. Pictured below, several plastic windows of various dimensions

A polymerization methodology is reported using sulfur monochloride (S2Cl2) as an alternative feedstock for polymeric materials. S2Cl2 is an inexpensive petrochemical derived from elemental sulfur (S8) but has numerous advantages as a reactive monomer for polymerization vs S8. This new process, termed sulfenyl chloride inverse vulcanization, exploits the high reactivity and miscibility of S2Cl2 with a broad range of allylic monomers to prepare soluble, high molar-mass linear polymers, segmented block copolymers, and crosslinked thermosets with greater synthetic precision than achieved using classical inverse vulcanization. This step-growth addition polymerization also allows for preparation of a new class of thiol-free, inexpensive, highly optically transparent thermosets (α = 0.045 cm–1 at 1310 nm), which exhibit among the best optical transparency and low birefringence relative to commodity optical polymers, while possessing a higher refractive index (n > 1.6) in the visible and near-infrared spectra. The fabrication of large-sized optical components is also demonstrated.