The molecular composition as well as the physical properties (including spectra) of liquid sulfur are reviewed starting with a historic Introduction to explain the terms π-sulfur and μ-sulfur . At all temperatures the melt contains homocyclic rings of between 6 and at least 35 atoms with S8 as the majority species as well as polymeric sulfur (S) which becomes a major component only above 170 °C. The polymer probably consists of very large rings at temperatures below 157 °C but above this temperature very long diradicalic chains occur in addition. At temperatures above 300 °C highly colored small molecules like S3 and, at even higher temperatures, S4 can be detected spectroscopically. According to quantum-chemical calculations branched rings (clusters) will be minor components at temperatures near the boiling point only. The temperature dependence of the composition is explained and the various polymerization theories for the transformation of S8 into S as well as the molecular nature of the polymer are discussed. In addition, the various analytical techniques applied to solve the composition problem of liquid sulfur are described.


Sulfur rings Sulfur chains Branched rings Thermodynamics Polymerization Photochemistry 

List of Abbreviations


Differential scanning calorimetry


Electron spin resonance


High performance liquid chromatography


Highest occupied molecular orbital


Lowest unoccupied molecular orbital


Molecular dynamics


Mixture of soluble sulfur rings excepting S8


Mixture of soluble sulfur rings with x>8


Polymeric sulfur present in liquid sulfur


Polymeric sulfur prepared from liquid sulfur


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institut für Chemie, Sekr. C2Technische Universität BerlinBerlinGermany

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