Anthracene is a solid polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon consisting of three fused benzene rings derived from coal-tar. Anthracene is used in the artificial production of the red dye alizarin. It is also used in wood preservatives, insecticides, and coating materials. Anthracene is colorless but exhibits a blue (400-500 nm peak) fluorescence under ultraviolet light.
The dimer is connected by two covalent bonds resulting from the [4+4] cycloaddition. The dimer reverts to anthracene thermally or with UV irradiation below 300 nm. The reversible bonding and photochromic properties of anthracenes is the basis of many potential applications using poly and monosubstituted anthracene derivatives. The reaction is sensitive to oxygen.
In most other reactions of anthracene, the central ring is also targeted, as it is the most highly reactive. Electrophilic substitution occurs at the "9" and "10" positions of the center ring, and oxidation of anthracene occurs readily, giving anthraquinone, C14H8O2 (below).
Anthracene is an organic semiconductor. It is used as a scintillator for detectors of high energy photons, electrons and alpha particles. Plastics such as polyvinyltoluene can be doped with anthracene to produce a plastic scintillator that is approximately water equivalent for use in radiation therapy dosimetry. Anthracene's emission spectrum peaks at between 400 nm and 440 nm.