A sulfenyl chloride is a functional group with the connectivity R–S–Cl, where R is alkyl or aryl. Sulfenyl chlorides are reactive compounds that behave as sources of RS+. They are used in the formation of RS–N and RS–O bonds. According to IUPAC nomenclature they are named as alkyl thiohypochlorites, i.e. esters of thiohypochlorous acid.
This reaction is sometimes called the Zincke disulfide reaction, in recognition of Theodor Zincke. Typically, sulfenyl halides are stabilized by electronegative substituents. This trend is illustrated by the stability of CCl3SCl obtained by chlorination of carbon disulfide.
Sulfenyl chlorides can be converted to sulfinyl chlorides (RS(O)Cl). In one approach, the sulfinyl chloride is generated in two steps starting with reaction of a thiol with sulfuryl chloride, SO 2Cl 2 In some cases the sulfenyl chloride results instead, as happens with 2,2,2-trifluoro-1,1-diphenylethanethiol. A trifluoroperacetic acid oxidation then provides a general approach to formation of sulfinyl chlorides from sulfenyl chlorides:
Sulfenyl bromides are also known. Simple sulfenyl iodides are unknown because they are unstable with respect to the disulfide and iodine:
2 RSI → (RS)2 + I2
Sulfenyl iodides can be isolated as stable compounds if they bear alkyl steric protecting groups as part of a cavity-shaped framework, illustrating the technique of kinetic stabilization of a reactive functionality, as in the case of sulfenic acids.
A related class of compounds are the alkylsulfur trichlorides, as exemplified by methylsulfur trichloride, CH3SCl3.
The corresponding selenenyl halides, e.g. C6H5SeCl, are more commonly encountered in the laboratory. Sulfenyl chlorides are used in the production of agents used in the vulcanization of rubber.
^Drabowicz, J.; Kiełbasiński, P.; Łyżwa, P.; Zając, A.; Mikołajczyk, M. (2008). Kambe, N. (ed.). Alkanesulfenyl Halides. Science of Synthesis. 39. pp. 544–550. ISBN9781588905307.