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Disulfur is the diatomic molecule with the formula S2.[1] It is analogous to the dioxygen molecule but rarely occurs at room temperature. This violet gas is commonly generated by heating sulfur above 720 °C and comprises 99% of the vapor at low pressure (1 mm Hg) at 530 °C. S2 is one of the minor components of the atmosphere of Io, which is predominantly composed of SO2.[2] Diatomic molecules are common containing C, O, N, and F, but for heavier elements they are often only observed at high temperatures. It is highly susceptible to photolysis by U.V. light, with a lifespan of minutes in daylight.

Ball and stick model of disulfur molecule
IUPAC name
Other names
Diatomic sulfur


Sulfur dimer
3D model (JSmol)
Molar mass 64.12 g·mol−1
0 D
32.51 kJ K−1 mol−1
228.17 J K−1 mol−1
128.60 kJ mol−1
Related compounds
Related compounds
Triplet oxygen
Except where otherwise noted, data are given for materials in their standard state (at 25 °C [77 °F], 100 kPa).
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Infobox references


Disulfur is produced when an atmosphere of COS is irradiated with UV light using a mercury photosensitizer or when CS2, H2S2, S2Cl2 or C2H4S are photolyzed. Singlet S2 is also formed when sulfur compounds such as H2S, PSF3 or COS are photolyzed. S2 can be generated by heating various organosulfur precursors.[3]

Natural occurrenceEdit

Gaseous disulfur has been detected emanating from the surface of Jupiter's moon Io, from the vicinity of Pele volcano.[4]


S2 exists in the triplet state (is a diradical, with two unpaired electrons) like O2 and SO. It has the S-S double bond length of 189 pm, much shorter than the S-S single bonds in S8, which are 206 pm long. In its Raman spectrum, the S-S vibrational band is observed at 715 cm−1.[5] The corresponding vibrational band of O-O is found at 1122 cm−1. The S-S bond energy is 265 kJ/mol compared to 498 kJ/mol for O2.

Sulfur has a large number of allotropes, perhaps as many as thirty. Their specific properties are distinguishable by various types of spectroscopy. The only stable form of sulfur at normal conditions is S8.[6]

Disulfur is highly unstable with regards to photodissociation,[7] with a mean lifespan of 7.5 min in sunlight.[8]


  1. ^ Steudel, Ralf; Eckert, Bodo (2003). "Solid Sulfur Allotropes". Elemental Sulfur and Sulfur-Rich Compounds I. Topics in Current Chemistry. 230. pp. 58–68. doi:10.1007/b12110. ISBN 978-3-540-40191-9.
  2. ^ Lellouch, E. (January 2005). "Io's Atmosphere and Surface-Atmosphere Interactions". Space Science Reviews. 116 (1–2): 211–224. Bibcode:2005SSRv..116..211L. doi:10.1007/s11214-005-1957-z.
  3. ^ Tardif, Sylvie L.; Rys, Andrzej Z.; Abrams, Charles B.; Abu-Yousef, Imad A.; Lesté-Lasserre, Pierre B. F.; Schultz, Erwin K. V.; Harpp, David N. (1997). "Recent chemistry of the chalcogen diatomics". Tetrahedron. 53 (36): 12225–12236. doi:10.1016/S0040-4020(97)00555-3.
  4. ^ Spencer, J. R. (2000). "Discovery of Gaseous S2 in Io's Pele Plume". Science. 288 (5469): 1208–1210. Bibcode:2000Sci...288.1208S. doi:10.1126/science.288.5469.1208. ISSN 0036-8075. PMID 10817990.
  5. ^ Eckert, Bodo; Steudel, Ralf (2003). "Molecular Spectra of Sulfur Molecules and Solid Sulfur Allotropes". Elemental Sulfur and Sulfur-Rich Compounds II. Topics in Current Chemistry. 231. pp. 181–191. doi:10.1007/b13181. ISBN 978-3-540-40378-4.
  6. ^ A. F. Holleman, N. Wiberg. Inorganic Chemistry. Academic Press; Berlin ; New York : De Gruyter, 2001.ISBN 0-12-352651-5.
  7. ^ Frederix, Pim W. J. M.; Yang, Chung-Hsin; Groenenboom, Gerrit C.; Parker, David H.; Alnama, Koutayba; Western, Colin M.; Orr-Ewing, Andrew J. (2009). "Photodissociation Imaging of Diatomic Sulfur (S2)†". The Journal of Physical Chemistry A. 113 (52): 14995–15005. Bibcode:2009JPCA..11314995F. CiteSeerX doi:10.1021/jp905104u. ISSN 1089-5639. PMID 19754091.
  8. ^ Ahearn, M. F.; Schleicher, D. G.; Feldman, P. D. (1983). "The discovery of S2 in comet IRAS-Araki-Alcock 1983d". The Astrophysical Journal. 274: L99. Bibcode:1983ApJ...274L..99A. doi:10.1086/184158. ISSN 0004-637X.