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Quinones List


Quinones represent a distinct class of organic compounds characterized by a fully conjugated cyclic dione structure, which originates from aromatic precursors. They arise from the conversion of an even number of -CH= groups into -C(=O)- groups, often involving necessary rearrangements of double bonds. Among the typical members of this class are 1,4-benzoquinone (Fig. 1), cyclohexadienedione, 1,2-benzoquinone (o-quinone), 1,4-naphthoquinone, and 9,10-anthraquinone. Quinones are widely distributed in nature and are not only found in a wide range of plants but also in bacteria, fungi, and animals. Quinones attract lots of interest due to their potential antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and anticancer activities.

Alfa Chemistry stands as a prominent supplier of chemicals, offering a comprehensive assortment of organic compounds, including a diverse range of high-quality quinones.

Structure of 1,4-benzoquinone.Fig. 1 Structure of 1,4-benzoquinone.

Classification of Quinones

According to their molecular structure, quinones can be divided into benzoquinones, naphthoquinones, phenanthrenequinones, and anthraquinones (Fig. 2).

  • Benzoquinones: Benzoquinones are derived from organic compounds with a single benzene ring and can be further divided into two categories: o-benzoquinones and p-benzoquinones. While o-benzoquinone structures exhibit instability, the majority of naturally occurring benzoquinone derivatives stem from p-benzoquinone.
  • Naphthoquinones: Naphthoquinones contain two six-membered rings and constitute a class of organic compounds structurally related to naphthalene, usually referred to as 1,4-naphthoquinones. Many naphthoquinone compounds display significant biological activities, exemplified by shikonins and their derivatives.
  • Phenanthrenequinones: Phenanthrenequinones derive from phenanthrene, presenting a diverse array including 9,10-phenanthrenequinone, 1,2-phenanthrenequinone, 1,4-phenanthrenequinone, 2,3-phenanthrenequinone, and 3,4-phenanthrenequinone. Natural phenanthraquinones are further categorize into o-quinones and p-quinones.
  • Anthraquinones: Anthraquinones, alternatively termed anthracenediones or dioxoanthracenes, feature polycyclic compounds with an unsaturated diketone structure (known as the quinoid moiety). They can be further divided according to the parent core and the degree of oxidation.

Structures of four quinones.Fig. 2 Structures of four quinones.

Representative Reactions

Quinones, owing to their unique molecular structures, engage in a variety of reactions that highlight their chemical versatility and biological significance.

Quinones Representative Reactions

  • Electrophilic Aromatic Substitution: Quinones undergo electrophilic aromatic substitution due to their electron-deficient carbonyl groups. This reaction is often utilized in the synthesis of various derivatives of quinones, allowing for the introduction of different functional groups.
  • Redox Reactions: Quinones undergo reversible redox reactions, transitioning between their quinone and hydroquinone forms, which are crucial to their antioxidant activity.
  • Diels-Alder Reaction: Quinones can participate in Diels-Alder reactions, which serve as an electron-deficient dienophile, reacting with a diene to form a cyclohexene ring system. Diels-Alder reactions involving quinones have been employed in the synthesis of natural products and pharmaceuticals.  


Quinones play pivotal roles across diverse industries, leveraging their unique properties for a range of applications:

  • Pharmaceuticals: Quinones are utilized in pharmaceuticals for their potential as anticancer and antioxidant agents, with compounds like doxorubicin and mitomycin C serving as potent anticancer agents. They also exhibit antimicrobial properties, making them valuable in antibiotics such as anthraquinone-based emodin derivatives.
  • Dyes and Pigments: Quinones are employed as dyes and pigments in the textile and printing industries due to their vivid colors and lightfastness. Anthraquinone-based dyes, for example, are widely used for dyeing fabrics and producing inks. One of classic examples is alizarin, a mordant dye that can be extracted from the root of the madder plant, which was used in the past as a natural dye to make red flame fabric.
  • Energy Storage Devices: Quinones play a significant role in energy storage devices, particularly in batteries and capacitors. Their redox activity enables them to serve as electrode materials, contributing to the development of high-performance energy storage systems. For example, ubiquinone derivatives are crucial in rechargeable lithium-ion batteries, enhancing their stability and performance.
  • Food and Flavor: Quinones contribute to both the nutritional and sensory aspects of food products. Certain quinones, such as ubiquinone (Coenzyme Q10), are used as dietary supplements due to their antioxidant properties. Additionally, quinones contribute to the flavor profile of foods and beverages, enhancing their aroma and taste.

Alfa Chemistry offers a comprehensive selection of quinone compounds encompassing diverse structures such as benzoquinones, naphthoquinones, phenanthrenequinones, and anthraquinones. Our team is dedicated to fulfilling your requirements and can provide tailored synthesis services to meet your exact specifications. Please contact us to explore how we can assist you in achieving your objectives.

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