Photoconductivity of Naphthalene and Anthracene

Article metrics


RECENT studies1 of the mobility ('metallic' character) of the unsaturation electrons within molecules containing conjugated double-bond systems suggest that solid conjugated compounds should exhibit the phenomenon of photoconductivity, provided that the unsaturation electrons can acquire enough energy to penetrate the potential barriers between adjoining molecules in the crystal lattice. Photoconductivity has, in fact, been observed in proteins2 and in certain dyes3. We have found that both naphthalene and anthracene, when melted and allowed to solidify between two platinum electrodes about 0·5 mm. apart, show weak photoconductivity when exposed in vacuo to the unfiltered radiation from a quartz mercury-vapour lamp. With applied voltages between 50 and 360, the photocurrents are detectable with a good galvanometer. They are of the order of magnitude of 10-8 amp., and are superimposed on a rather variable dark current. As in the case of dyes3, the photocurrents are quenched if air is admitted to the system.

Access options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.


All prices are NET prices.


  1. 1

    Bayliss, N. S., J. Chem. Phys., 16, 287 (1948).

  2. 2

    Szent-Györgyi, A., Nature, 157, 875 (1946).

  3. 3

    Vartanyan, A. T., J. Phys. Chem. (U.S.S.R.), 20, 1065 (1946).

  4. 4

    Fowler, R. H., "Statistical Mechanics", 433 (Cambridge, 1936).

Download references

Author information

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

BAYLISS, N., RIVIERE, J. Photoconductivity of Naphthalene and Anthracene. Nature 163, 765 (1949) doi:10.1038/163765a0

Download citation

Further reading


By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.