Linear Oligosulfoxides: Synthesis and Solubility Studies

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Department of Chemistry


Synthesis of three linear oligosulfoxides containing up to six sulfoxide groups was achieved by multiple SN2 reactions between an alkanethiol and alkyl tosylate to give a linear oligosulfide followed by oxidation of the oligosulfide with sodium periodate to give an oligosulfoxide. The challenge of complete avoidance of partial oxidation and over oxidation was easily overcome using the sodium periodate oxidation conditions. Although sulfoxide is a highly polar functional group, the oligosulfoxides were found to have limited solubility in many solvents including DMSO and water, which disobeys the “like dissolves like” rule. The surprising solubility pattern of oligosulfoxides was discussed in the context of the drastically different solubility patterns of polyethylene glycol (PEG), poly(butylene oxide), and poly(methylene oxide). According to a dissolution model, solubility properties of linear oligomers including the oligosulfoxides and PEGs may be heavily affected by their conformations and the suitability of their conformations in water for maximizing attractive interactions between them and water. Based on these hypotheses, the limited solubility of the present oligosulfoxides may not imply the low solubility of similar molecules.

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Tetrahedron letters