Biphenyl (or diphenyl or phenyl benzene or 1,1'-biphenyl or lemonene) is a solid organic compound that forms colorless to yellowish crystals. It has a distinctively pleasant smell. Biphenyl is an aromatic hydrocarbon with a molecular formula C12H10. Biphenyl is notable as a starting material for the production of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), which were once widely used as dielectric fluids and heat transfer agents. Biphenyl is also an intermediate for the production of a host of other organic compounds such as emulsifiers, optical brighteners, crop protection products, and plastics.
Biphenyl occurs naturally in coal tar
, crude oil
, and natural gas
and can be produced from these sources by distillation
. Biphenyl is insoluble
in water, but soluble in typical organic solvents
. The biphenyl molecule consists of two connected benzene rings
, without any additional functionalization, and is therefore not very reactive. The flashpoint
is 113 °C and the autoignition temperature
is 540 °C.
Rotation about the single bond in biphenyl, and especially its ortho-substituted
derivatives, is sterically hindered
. For this reason, some substituted biphenyls show atropisomerism
; that is, the individual C2
-isomers are optically stable
. Some derivatives, as well as related molecules such as BINAP
, find application as ligands
in asymmetric synthesis
. In the case of unsubstituted biphenyl, the equilibrium torsional angle is 44.4° and the torsional barriers are 6.0 kJ/mol at 0° and 6.5 kJ/mol at 90°.
Biphenyl prevents the growth of molds and fungus
, and is therefore used as a preservative
, in combination with E231, E232 and E233), particularly in the preservation of citrus
fruits during transportation.
It is mildly toxic, but can be degraded biologically by conversion into nontoxic compounds. The ability to do so by adding oxygen molecules to the aromatic rings of biphenyl is found in some bacteria. It has been demonstrated that some bacteria that have degraded biphenyl can then also degrade polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).
Substituted biphenyls can be prepared synthetically by various coupling reactions
including the Suzuki reaction
and the Ullmann reaction
and have many uses. polychlorinated biphenyls
were once used as cooling and insulating fluids and polybrominated biphenyls
are flame retardants
. The biphenyl motif also appears in drugs
such as Valsartan
. The abbreviation E7
stands for a liquid crystal
mixture consisting of several cyanobiphenyls with long aliphatic tails used commercially in liquid crystal displays
- Biphenyl (1,1- Biphenyl). Wiley/VCH, Weinh. (1991), ISBN 3-527-28277-7