The structure of the sulfonamide group

In organic chemistry, the sulfonamide functional group (also spelled sulphonamide) is an organosulfur group with the structure R−S(=O)2−NR2. It consists of a sulfonyl group (O=S=O) connected to an amine group (−NH2). Relatively speaking this group is unreactive. Because of the rigidity of the functional group, sulfonamides are typically crystalline; for this reason, the formation of a sulfonamide is a classic method to convert an amine into a crystalline derivative which can be identified by its melting point. Many important drugs contain the sulfonamide group.[1]

A sulfonamide (compound) is a chemical compound that contains this group. The general formula is R−SO2NR'R" or R−S(=O)2−NR'R", where each R is some organic group; for example, "methanesulfonamide" (where R = methane, R' = R" = hydrogen) is CH3SO2NH2. Any sulfonamide can be considered as derived from a sulfonic acid by replacing a hydroxyl group (−OH) with an amine group.

In medicine, the term "sulfonamide" is sometimes used as a synonym for sulfa drug, a derivative or variation of sulfanilamide. The first sulfonamide was discovered in Germany in 1932.[2]


Sulfonamides can be prepared in the laboratory in many ways. The classic approach entails the reaction of sulfonyl chlorides with an amine.

A base such as pyridine is typically added to absorb the HCl that is generated. Illustrative is the synthesis of sulfonylmethylamide.[3] A readily available sulfonyl chloride source is tosyl chloride.[4] The reaction of primary and secondary amines with benzenesulfonyl chloride is the basis of the Hinsberg reaction, a method for detecting primary and secondary amines.


"Sultam" redirects here. Not to be confused with Sultan.

Sultams are cyclic sulfonamides. Bioactive sultams include the antiinflammatory ampiroxicam and the anticonvulsant sulthiame. Sultams are prepared analogously to other sulfonamides, allowing for the fact that sulfonic acids are deprotonated by amines. They are often prepared by one-pot oxidation of disulfides or thiols linked to amines.[5] An alternative synthesis of sultams involves initial preparation of a linear sulfonamide, followed by intramolecular C-C bond formation (i.e. cyclization), a strategy that was used in the synthesis of a sultam-based deep-blue emitter for organic electronics.[6]


The related sulfinamides (R(S=O)NHR) are amides of sulfinic acids (R(S=O)OH) (see sulfinyl). Chiral sulfinamides such as tert-butanesulfinamide, p-toluenesulfinamide[7][8] and 2,4,6-trimethylbenzenesulfinamide[9] are relevant to asymmetric synthesis.


Bis(trifluoromethanesulfonyl)aniline is a source of the triflyl (CF3SO+2) group.

The disulfonimides are of the type R−S(=O)2−N(H)−S(=O)2−R’ with two sulfonyl groups flanking an amine.[10] As with sulfinamides, this class of compounds is used as catalysts in enantioselective synthesis.[10][11][12]

See also


  1. ^ Actor, P.; Chow, A. W.; Dutko, F. J.; McKinlay, M. A. "Chemotherapeutics". Ullmann's Encyclopedia of Industrial Chemistry. Weinheim: Wiley-VCH. doi:10.1002/14356007.a06_173. ISBN 978-3527306732.((cite encyclopedia)): CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  2. ^ Levy, Stuart B. (2002). The antibiotic paradox : how the misuse of antibiotics destroys their curative powers (2 ed.). Cambridge, Massachusetts: Perseus Publ. p. 51. ISBN 9780738204406.
  3. ^ Organic Syntheses, Coll. Vol. 4, p.943 (1963); Vol. 34, p.96 (1954). Online Article
  4. ^ Organic Syntheses, Coll. Vol. 5, p.39 (1973); Vol. 48, p.8 (1968) Online Article
  5. ^ Rassadin, V.; Grosheva, D.; Tomashevskii, A. Sokolov, V. "Methods of Sultam Synthesis" Chemistry of Heterocyclic Compounds 2013, Vol. 49, p39-65. 27. doi:10.1007/s10593-013-1231-3.
  6. ^ Virk, Tarunpreet Singh; Ilawe, Niranjan V.; Zhang, Guoxian; Yu, Craig P.; Wong, Bryan M.; Chan, Julian M. W. (2016). "Sultam-Based Hetero[5]helicene: Synthesis, Structure, and Crystallization-Induced Emission Enhancement". ACS Omega. 1 (6): 1336–1342. doi:10.1021/acsomega.6b00335. PMC 6640820. PMID 31457199.
  7. ^ Organic Syntheses, Coll. Vol. 10, p.47 (2004); Vol. 77, p.50 (2000). Link
  8. ^ Org. Synth. 2007, 84, 129-138 Link
  9. ^ Org. Synth. 2006, 83, 131-140 Link
  10. ^ a b James, Thomas; van Gemmeren, Manuel; List, Benjamin (2015). "Development and Applications of Disulfonimides in Enantioselective Organocatalysis". Chem. Rev. 115 (17): 9388–9409. doi:10.1021/acs.chemrev.5b00128. PMID 26147232.
  11. ^ Treskow, M.; Neudörfl, J.; Giernoth, R. (2009). "BINBAM – A New Motif for Strong and Chiral Brønsted Acids". Eur. J. Org. Chem. 2009 (22): 3693–3697. doi:10.1002/ejoc.200900548.
  12. ^ García-García, P.; Lay, F.; García-García, P.; Rabalakos, C.; List, B. (2009). "A Powerful Chiral Counteranion Motif for Asymmetric Catalysis". Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 48 (24): 4363–4366. doi:10.1002/anie.200901768. PMID 19437518.