June 08, 2020
My versatility ranges from dyestuffs to electronics.
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Anthracene is one of the smaller polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons. (The only smaller one is naphthalene.) It was isolated from coal tar in 1832 by pioneering French chemists Jean-Baptiste Dumas and Auguste Laurent.

Anthracene can be synthesized by the Elbs reaction, in which o-tolyl phenyl ketone is dehydrated at 400–450 ºC. But most commercial anthracene is still recovered from coal tar.

In commerce, anthracene is mainly used as a starting material for the manufacture of 9,10-anthraquinone, which in turn is used to make colorants such as the red dye alizarin. More recently, crystalline anthracene was found to be a useful wide band-gap semiconductor in devices such as organic field-effect transistors and scintillators for detecting high-energy subatomic particles. 

Anthracene hazard information*

Hazard class** Hazard statement
Acute toxicity, dermal, category 4 H312—Harmful in contact with skin Chemical Safety Warning
Skin corrosion/irritation, category 2 H315—Causes skin irritation Chemical Safety Warning
Serious eye damage/eye irritation, category 2A  H319—Causes serious eye irritation Chemical Safety Warning
Specific target organ toxicity, single exposure, respiratory tract irritation, category 3 H335—May cause respiratory irritation Chemical Safety Warning
Carcinogenicity, category 1A H350—May cause cancer Chemical Safety Warning
Hazardous to the aquatic environment, acute hazard, category 1 H400—Very toxic to aquatic life Chemical Safety Warning
Hazardous to the aquatic environment, long-term hazard, category 1 H410—Very toxic to aquatic life with long-lasting effects Chemical Safety Warning

*Combined from multiple safety data sheets.
**Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals. Explanation of pictograms.

Anthracene fast facts

CAS Reg. No. 120-12-7
Empirical formula C14H10
Molar mass 178.23 g/mol
Appearance White crystals or powder
Melting point 218 ºC
Water solubility 44 μg/L
Chemical Abstract Service - a division of ACS

Learn more about this molecule from CAS, the most authoritative and comprehensive source for chemical information.

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