Extensive Definition

Triphenylmethane, or triphenyl methane, is the hydrocarbon with the formula (C6H5)3CH. This colorless solid is soluble in nonpolar organic solvents, but not water. Triphenylmethane has the basic skeleton of many synthetic dyes called triarylmethane dyes, many of them are pH indicators, and some display fluorescence. A trityl group in organic chemistry is a triphenylmethyl group Ph3C, e.g. triphenylmethyl chloride — trityl chloride.


Triphenylmethane can be synthesized by Friedel-Crafts reaction from benzene and chloroform with aluminium chloride catalyst. Synthesis from benzylidene chloride, prepared from benzaldehyde and phosphorus pentachloride, is used as well.


The pKa of the hydrogen on the central carbon is around 31. Triphenylmethane is significantly more acidic than most other hydrocarbons because the planar trityl anion is stabilized by extensive delocalization over three phenyl rings. The trityl anion absorbs strongly in the visible region, making it red. This colour can be used as an indicator when maintaining anhydrous conditions with calcium hydride; the hydride reagent reacts with water to form solid calcium hydroxide, while it is also a strong enough base to generate the trityl anion. If the hydride is used up then the solution will turn colourless. The sodium salt can be prepared also from the chloride:
(C6H5)3CCl + 2 Na → (C6H5)3CNa + NaCl
Before the popularization of butyllithium and related strong bases, trityl sodium was often used as a strong, non-nucleophilic base.

Triarylmethane dyes

Examples of triarylmethane dyes are bromocresol green:


triphenylmethane in German: Triphenylmethan
triphenylmethane in Spanish: Trifenilmetano
triphenylmethane in Japanese: トリフェニルメタン
triphenylmethane in Portuguese: Trifenilmetano
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