Electrochemical synthesis of poly(trisulfides)

28 March 2023, Version 1
This content is a preprint and has not undergone peer review at the time of posting.


With increasing interest in high sulfur content polymers, there is a need to develop new methods for their synthesis that feature better safety and control of structure. In this report, electrochemically-initiated ring-opening polymerization of norbornene-based cyclic trisulfide monomers delivered well-defined, linear poly(trisulfides), which were solution processable. Electrochemistry provided a controlled initiation step that obviates the need for hazardous chemical initiators. The high temperatures required for inverse vulcanization are also avoided resulting in an improved safety profile. Density functional theory calculations revealed a reversible ‘self-correcting’ mechanism that ensures trisulfide linkages between monomer units. This control over sulfur rank is a new benchmark for high sulfur content polymers and creates opportunities to better understand the effects of sulfur rank on polymer properties. Thermogravimetric analysis coupled with mass spectrometry revealed the ability to recycle the polymer to the cyclic trisulfide monomer by thermal depolymerization. The featured poly(trisulfide) is an effective gold sorbent, with potential applications in mining and electronic waste recycling. A water-soluble poly(trisulfide) containing a carboxylic acid group was also produced and found to be effective in the binding and recovery of copper from aqueous media.


chemical recycling
inverse vulcanization

Supplementary materials

Supporting Information
Full experimental and computational details as well as characterization data is supplied as electronic Supporting Information


Comments are not moderated before they are posted, but they can be removed by the site moderators if they are found to be in contravention of our Commenting Policy [opens in a new tab] - please read this policy before you post. Comments should be used for scholarly discussion of the content in question. You can find more information about how to use the commenting feature here [opens in a new tab] .
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy [opens in a new tab] and Terms of Service [opens in a new tab] apply.