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Posted: Nov 13, 2015
The right catalyst turns smelly chemicals into valuable products
(Nanowerk News) Mercaptans or thiols are a special class of organic compounds that contains sulfur functional group, RSH. Various sulfur compounds are highly demanded in the formation of new materials in photonics, optics, pharmaceutical industry, organic chemistry, and nanotechnology.
Sulfur derivatives are, by far, the richest fossil source of functional molecules available in nature. Indeed, a diversity of sulfur species is present as contaminants in crude oil. Unfortunately, there are still no efficient technological tools to separate sulfur compounds from crude oil and utilize them in materials production. Petroleum industry wastes billions of tones of valuable compounds, which are annually destroyed to elemental sulfur.
It is a well-known fact that humans are very sensitive to thiols. Small molecular thiols have an extremely unpleasant smell, which even in trace-level concentration (1-5 parts per billion) can be easily detected by human’s nose.
Figure 1. A unique four-membered Pd2S2 ring created in the catalytic chemistry. (click on image to enlarge)
Chemical transformation was performed using atom–economic approach, which assures high yield and complete selectivity. This means that a pure product can be obtained just after completion of the reaction and isolation of the catalyst.