Treatment of a sulfide with a catalytic amount of a 1,3 diketone in the presence of silica sulfuric acid as a co-catalyst and hydrogen peroxide (50% aq) as the stoichiometric oxidant leads to the corresponding sulfoxide product. The reaction is effective for diaryl, aryl-alkyl and dialkyl sulfides and is tolerant of oxidisable and acid sensitive functional groups. Investigations have shown that the tris-peroxide 2, formed on reaction of pentane-2,4-dione with hydrogen peroxide under acidic reaction conditions, can oxidise two equivalents of sulfide using the exocyclic peroxide groups whereas the endocyclic peroxide remains intact. Calculations provide a mechanism consistent with experimental observations and suggest the reaction proceeds via an initial acid catalysed ring opening of a protonated tris-peroxide prior to oxygen transfer to a sulfur nucleophile.
- DFT calculations