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The transformations of thiols and their dimers in the redox-mediated thiol-disulfide exchange reaction

Daria A. Burmistrova, Ivan V. Smolyaninov, Nadezhda T. Berberova


A search for new approaches to sulfurous waste utilization is one of the urgent tasks of chemical technology. Thiol-disulfide exchange reaction (TDE) is one of the possible ways to involve technogenic wastes in organic synthesis. Electricity can promote such type of interactions. In this paper, we have studied TDE reactions involving low molecular weight thiols or their dimers under electrochemical conditions. The exchange processes were examined using the model reaction between 1-propanethiol and phenyl disulfide. Electrolysis was performed in the presence of redox mediators such as arylphosphines, substituted amines, o-, p-aminophenols or catechol. These compounds can initiate a TDE process with a formation of unsymmetrical disulfides. 4-Amino-2,6-diphenylphenol was chosen as the most effective redox mediator, which reduces the anodic overvoltage of a thiol oxidation by 1.20 V. The advantage of electrolysis in an undivided cell is the increased yield of target unsymmetrical disulfides due to the possibility of reduction ofhomodimers at the cathode. The involvement of refining waste, such as C3–C4 disulfide oil, in the reaction with substituted thiophenols made it possible to obtain a number of unsymmetrical arylalkyl disulfides with biologically active fragments in a high yield (up to 97%) under indirect electrolysis conditions.


industrial waste; thiols; thiol-disulfide exchange; unsymmetrical disulfides; redox-mediator; electrochemistry

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