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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-symmetric-isomers are optically stable. Some derivatives, as well as related molecules such as BINAP, find application as ligands in asymmetric synthesis
Biphenyl prevents the growth of molds and fungus, and is therefore used as a preservative (E230, 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), synthetic substances that are considerably more harmful to the environment than their natural counterparts. 
Substituted biphenyls can be prepared synthetically by various coupling reactions including the Suzuki reaction and the Ullmann reaction and have many uses. polychlorinated biphenyls are once used as cooling and insulating fluids and polybrominated biphenyls are flame retardants. The biphenyl motif also appears in drugs such as Valsartan and Telmisartan. The abbreviation E7 stands for a liquid crystal mixture consisting of several cyanobiphenyls with long aliphatic tails used commercially in liquid crystal displays.
|This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Biphenyl". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.