Aromatics are a group of hydrocarbons that form the basis of important commodity chemicals used in the production of items such as clothing, paints and packaging.
An aromatic hydrocarbon or arene (or sometimes aryl hydrocarbon) is a hydrocarbon with sigma bonds and delocalized pi electrons between carbon atoms forming a circle. In contrast, aliphatic hydrocarbons lack this delocalization. The term ‘aromatic’ was assigned before the physical mechanism determining aromaticity was discovered; the term was coined as such simply because many of the compounds have a sweet or pleasant odour. The configuration of six carbon atoms in aromatic compounds is known as a benzene ring, after the simplest possible such hydrocarbon, benzene. Aromatic hydrocarbons can be monocyclic (MAH) or polycyclic (PAH).