Phenyl group
In organic chemistry
Organic chemistry
Organic chemistry is a subdiscipline within chemistry involving the scientific study of the structure, properties, composition, reactions, and preparation of carbon-based compounds, hydrocarbons, and their derivatives...

, the phenyl group or phenyl ring is a cyclic
Cyclic compound
In chemistry, a cyclic compound is a compound in which a series of atoms is connected to form a loop or ring.While the vast majority of cyclic compounds are organic, a few inorganic substances form cyclic compounds as well, including sulfur, silanes, phosphanes, phosphoric acid, and triboric acid. ...

 group of atoms with the formula C
Carbon is the chemical element with symbol C and atomic number 6. As a member of group 14 on the periodic table, it is nonmetallic and tetravalent—making four electrons available to form covalent chemical bonds...

Hydrogen is the chemical element with atomic number 1. It is represented by the symbol H. With an average atomic weight of , hydrogen is the lightest and most abundant chemical element, constituting roughly 75% of the Universe's chemical elemental mass. Stars in the main sequence are mainly...

5. Phenyl groups are closely related to benzene
Benzene is an organic chemical compound. It is composed of 6 carbon atoms in a ring, with 1 hydrogen atom attached to each carbon atom, with the molecular formula C6H6....

. Phenyl groups have six carbon atoms bonded together in a hexagonal planar ring, five of which are bonded to individual hydrogen atoms, with the remaining carbon bonded to a substituent
In organic chemistry and biochemistry, a substituent is an atom or group of atoms substituted in place of a hydrogen atom on the parent chain of a hydrocarbon...

. Phenyl groups are pervasive in organic chemistry
Organic chemistry
Organic chemistry is a subdiscipline within chemistry involving the scientific study of the structure, properties, composition, reactions, and preparation of carbon-based compounds, hydrocarbons, and their derivatives...

. Although often depicted with alternating double and single bonds, phenyl groups are chemically aromatic
In organic chemistry, Aromaticity is a chemical property in which a conjugated ring of unsaturated bonds, lone pairs, or empty orbitals exhibit a stabilization stronger than would be expected by the stabilization of conjugation alone. The earliest use of the term was in an article by August...

 and show nearly equal bond lengths between carbon atoms in the ring.


Phenyl groups are often represented by the symbol Ph or, archaically, Φ. Benzene is sometimes denoted as PhH. Phenyl groups are generally attached to other atoms or groups. For example, triphenylmethane
Triphenylmethane, or triphenyl methane, is the hydrocarbon with the formula 3CH. This colorless solid is soluble in nonpolar organic solvents and not in water. Triphenylmethane has the basic skeleton of many synthetic dyes called triarylmethane dyes, many of them are pH indicators, and some display...

 (Ph3CH) has three phenyl groups attached to the same carbon centre. Many or even most phenyl compounds are not described with the term "phenyl." For example the chloro derivative C6H5Cl is normally called chlorobenzene
Chlorobenzene is an aromatic organic compound with the chemical formula C6H5Cl. This colorless, flammable liquid is a common solvent and a widely used intermediate in the manufacture of other chemicals.-Uses:...

, although it could be called phenyl chloride. In special (and rare) cases, isolated phenyl groups are detected: the phenyl anion (C6H5-), the phenyl cation (C6H5+), and the phenyl free radical (C6H5).

Although Ph and phenyl uniquely denote C6H5, substituted derivatives also are described using the phenyl terminology. For example, O2NC6H4 is nitrophenyl (of which three isomers are possible) and F5C6 is pentafluorophenyl.

Structure, bonding, characterization

Phenyl compounds are derived from benzene
Benzene is an organic chemical compound. It is composed of 6 carbon atoms in a ring, with 1 hydrogen atom attached to each carbon atom, with the molecular formula C6H6....

 (C6H6), at least conceptually and often in terms of their production. In terms of its electronic properties, the phenyl group is related to a vinyl group. The phenyl group is hydrophobic. Phenyl groups tend to resist oxidation and reduction. Phenyl groups (like all aromatic compounds) have enhanced stability in comparison to equivalent bonding in aliphatic (non-aromatic) groups. This increased stability is due to the unique properties of aromatic molecular orbitals
Molecular orbital theory
In chemistry, molecular orbital theory is a method for determining molecular structure in which electrons are not assigned to individual bonds between atoms, but are treated as moving under the influence of the nuclei in the whole molecule...


The bond lengths between carbon atoms in a phenyl group are approximately 1.4 Å (Ångström
The angstrom or ångström, is a unit of length equal to 1/10,000,000,000 of a meter . Its symbol is the Swedish letter Å....


Nuclear magnetic resonance
Nuclear magnetic resonance is a physical phenomenon in which magnetic nuclei in a magnetic field absorb and re-emit electromagnetic radiation...

 spectroscopy, protons of a phenyl group typically absorb chemical shift
Chemical shift
In nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, the chemical shift is the resonant frequency of a nucleus relative to a standard. Often the position and number of chemical shifts are diagnostic of the structure of a molecule...

s around 7.27 ppm. The position of these chemical shifts is influenced by aromatic ring current
Aromatic ring current
An aromatic ring current is an effect observed in aromatic molecules such as benzene and naphthalene. If a magnetic field is directed perpendicular to the plane of the aromatic system, a ring current is induced in the delocalized π electrons of the aromatic ring...

, and these values may change depending on substituents.

Preparation, occurrence, and applications

Phenyl groups are usually introduced using reagents that behave as sources of the phenyl anion or the phenyl cation. Representative reagents include phenyllithium
Phenyllithium is an organometallic agent with the empirical formula C6H5Li. It is most commonly used as a metalating agent in organic syntheses and a substitute for Grignard reagents for introducing phenyl groups in organic syntheses...

 (C6H5Li) and phenylmagnesium bromide
Phenylmagnesium bromide
Phenylmagnesium bromide, with the simplified formula , is a magnesium-containing organometallic compound. It is so commonly used that it is commercially available as a solution in diethyl ether or tetrahydrofuran . Phenylmagnesium bromide is a Grignard reagent...

 (C6H5MgBr). Electrophiles attack benzene to give phenyl derivatives:
C6H6 + E+ → C6H5E + H+

where E+ (the "electrophile") = Cl+, NO2+, SO3H+. These reactions are called electrophilic aromatic substitution
Electrophilic aromatic substitution
Electrophilic aromatic substitution EAS is an organic reaction in which an atom, usually hydrogen, appended to an aromatic system is replaced by an electrophile...

Phenyl groups are found in many organic compounds, both natural and synthetic (see figure). Most common among natural products is the amino acid
Amino acid
Amino acids are molecules containing an amine group, a carboxylic acid group and a side-chain that varies between different amino acids. The key elements of an amino acid are carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen...

Phenylalanine is an α-amino acid with the formula C6H5CH2CHCOOH. This essential amino acid is classified as nonpolar because of the hydrophobic nature of the benzyl side chain. L-Phenylalanine is an electrically neutral amino acid, one of the twenty common amino acids used to biochemically form...

, which contains a phenyl group. A major product of the petrochemical industry is "BTX" consisting of benzene, toluene, and xylene - all of which are building blocks for phenyl compounds. The polymer
A polymer is a large molecule composed of repeating structural units. These subunits are typically connected by covalent chemical bonds...

Polystyrene ) also known as Thermocole, abbreviated following ISO Standard PS, is an aromatic polymer made from the monomer styrene, a liquid hydrocarbon that is manufactured from petroleum by the chemical industry...

 is derived from a phenyl-containing monomer and owes its properties to the rigidity and hydrophobicity of the phenyl groups. Many drugs as well as many pollutants contain phenyl rings.

One of the simplest phenyl-containing compounds is phenol
Phenol, also known as carbolic acid, phenic acid, is an organic compound with the chemical formula C6H5OH. It is a white crystalline solid. The molecule consists of a phenyl , bonded to a hydroxyl group. It is produced on a large scale as a precursor to many materials and useful compounds...

, C6H5OH. It is often said the resonance stability
Resonance (chemistry)
In chemistry, resonance or mesomerism is a way of describing delocalized electrons within certain molecules or polyatomic ions where the bonding cannot be expressed by one single Lewis formula...

 of phenol makes it a stronger acid
An acid is a substance which reacts with a base. Commonly, acids can be identified as tasting sour, reacting with metals such as calcium, and bases like sodium carbonate. Aqueous acids have a pH of less than 7, where an acid of lower pH is typically stronger, and turn blue litmus paper red...

 than that of aliphatic alcohols such as ethanol
Ethanol, also called ethyl alcohol, pure alcohol, grain alcohol, or drinking alcohol, is a volatile, flammable, colorless liquid. It is a psychoactive drug and one of the oldest recreational drugs. Best known as the type of alcohol found in alcoholic beverages, it is also used in thermometers, as a...

Acid dissociation constant
An acid dissociation constant, Ka, is a quantitative measure of the strength of an acid in solution. It is the equilibrium constant for a chemical reaction known as dissociation in the context of acid-base reactions...

 = 10 vs. 16–18). However, a significant contribution is the greater electronegativity
Electronegativity, symbol χ , is a chemical property that describes the tendency of an atom or a functional group to attract electrons towards itself. An atom's electronegativity is affected by both its atomic number and the distance that its valence electrons reside from the charged nucleus...

 of the sp2 alpha carbon
Alpha carbon
The alpha carbon in organic chemistry refers to the first carbon that attaches to a functional group . By extension, the second carbon is the beta carbon, and so on....

in phenol compared to the sp3 alpha carbon in aliphatic alcohols.
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