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Ball-and-stick model of the phenanthrene molecule
IUPAC names
85-01-8 YesY
ChemSpider 970 N
EC number 266-028-2
Jmol-3D images Image
KEGG C11422 YesY
MeSH C031181
PubChem 995
Molar mass 178.23 g·mol−1
Appearance Colorless solid
Density 1.18 g/cm3[1]
Melting point 101 °C (214 °F; 374 K)[1]
Boiling point 332 °C (630 °F; 605 K)[1]
1.6 mg/L[1]
NFPA 704
Flammability code 1: Must be pre-heated before ignition can occur. Flash point over 93 °C (200 °F). E.g., canola oil Health code 1: Exposure would cause irritation but only minor residual injury. E.g., turpentine Reactivity code 0: Normally stable, even under fire exposure conditions, and is not reactive with water. E.g., liquid nitrogen Special hazards (white): no codeNFPA 704 four-colored diamond
Flash point 171 °C (340 °F; 444 K)[1]
Point group C2v[2]
Dipole moment 0 D
Except where noted otherwise, data is given for materials in their standard state (at 25 °C (77 °F), 100 kPa)
 N verify (what isYesY/N?)
Infobox references

Phenanthrene is a polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon composed of three fused benzene rings. The name phenanthrene is a composite of phenyl and anthracene. In its pure form, it is found in cigarette smoke and is a known irritant, photosensitizing skin to light.[citation needed] Phenanthrene appears as a white powder having blue fluorescence.

The compound with a phenanthrene skeleton and nitrogens at the 4 and 5 positions is known as phenanthroline.

Phenanthrene is the backbone of morphinan, which in turn is the backbone of a large number of psychoactive chemicals including antitussives, analgesics, and dissociative drugs.


Phenanthrene is nearly insoluble in water but is soluble in most low polarity organic solvents such as toluene, carbon tetrachloride, ether, chloroform, acetic acid and benzene.

A classical phenanthrene synthesis is the Bardhan–Sengupta phenanthrene synthesis.[3]

Bardhan–Senguptam phenanthrene synthesis

The first step is an electrophilic aromatic substitution reaction, which is allowed when the diphosphorus pentoxide makes the alcohol a better leaving group. However, no alkenes outside of the initial aromatic ring are created. In the second step of this reaction 9,10-dihydrophenanthrene is oxidized with elemental selenium. The aromatization of six-membered rings by selenium is not clearly understood, but it does produce H2Se.

Phenanthrene can also be obtained photochemically from certain diarylethenes.

Reactions of phenanthrene typically occur at the 9 and 10 positions, including:

Canonical forms[edit]

Phenanthrene is more stable than its linear isomer anthracene. A classic and well established explanation is based on Clar's rule. A novel theory invokes so-called stabilizing hydrogen-hydrogen bonds between the C4 and C5 hydrogen atoms.

Natural occurrences[edit]

Ravatite is a natural mineral consisting of phenanthrene.[9] It is found in small amounts among a few coal burning sites. Ravatite represents a small group of organic minerals.

In February 2014, NASA announced a greatly upgraded database for tracking polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), including phenanthrene, in the universe. According to scientists, more than 20% of the carbon in the universe may be associated with PAHs, possible starting materials for the formation of life. PAHs seem to have begun forming a couple of billion years after the Big Bang, are widespread throughout the universe, and are associated with new stars and exoplanets.[10]

In plants[edit]

Main article: Phenanthrenes


  1. ^ a b c d e Record of CAS RN 85-01-8 in the GESTIS Substance Database of the IFA
  2. ^ Peter Atkins, J. D. P., Atkins' Physical Chemistry. Oxford: 2010. Pg.443
  3. ^ Link
  4. ^ Organic Syntheses, Coll. Vol. 4, p.757 (1963); Vol. 34, p.76 (1954) Link
  5. ^ Organic Syntheses, Coll. Vol. 4, p.313 (1963); Vol. 34, p.31 (1954) Link.
  6. ^ Organic Syntheses, Coll. Vol. 3, p.134 (1955); Vol. 28, p.19 (1948) Link.
  7. ^ Organic Syntheses, Coll. Vol. 2, p.482 (1943); Vol. 16, p.63 (1936) Link.
  8. ^ Organic Syntheses, Coll. Vol. 5, p.489 (1973); Vol. 41, p.41 (1961) Link.
  9. ^ Ravatite Mineral Data
  10. ^ Hoover, Rachel (February 21, 2014). "Need to Track Organic Nano-Particles Across the Universe? NASA's Got an App for That". NASA. Retrieved February 22, 2014. 

External links[edit]