Carbonyl pigments: General principles

Robert Christie*, Adrian Abel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This chapter describes the general features of the chemical class of pigments designated as carbonyl pigments. These pigments are characterized by the presence of carbonyl groups linked to one another via an extended conjugated system, often forming polycyclic aromatic structures. Carbonyl pigments have experienced distinct phases in their histories. Certain carbonyl colorants, notably anthraquinonoids, were discovered in the early twentieth century and subsequently used as vat dyes for textiles, but their potential as high-performance pigments was not realized until the mid-twentieth century when demand began to emerge for pigments of the quality that they could provide. After conversion to a suitable physical form, several vat dyes were then introduced as vat pigments. Several other carbonyl pigment types did not originate as vat dyes but were developed specifically for pigment use. Carbonyl pigments provide a wider diversity of structural arrangements. The broad carbonyl chemical class may be categorized into several sub-types, each with its own characteristic structural features. These categories, which are discussed in separate chapters, include anthraquinonoids, quinacridones, diketopyrrolopyrroles, perylenes, perinones, indigoids, isoindolines, isoindolinones, and quinophthalones. These products generally owe their high levels of technical performance to their large molecular size and high molecular planarity, which lead to highly compact crystal structures and, in many cases, to the ability of the carbonyl group to participate in strong intra-and intermolecular hydrogen bonding.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)291-297
Number of pages7
JournalPhysical Sciences Reviews
Issue number8
Early online date29 Jun 2021
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2021


  • Carbonyl pigments
  • anthraquinonoids
  • automotive paints
  • conjugated system
  • diketopyrrolopyrroles
  • high-performance pigments
  • indigoids
  • isoindolines
  • isoindolinones
  • perinones
  • perylenes
  • plastics
  • polycyclic
  • quinacridones
  • quinophthalones
  • vat dyes
  • vat pigments

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • General Materials Science
  • General Physics and Astronomy


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