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Principles of Colour Chemistry

Principles of Colour Chemistry

Basis for colour
Unlike most organic compounds, dyes possess colour because they:
1) Absorb light in the visible spectrum (400–700 nm), 
2) Have at least one chromophore (colour-bearing group), 
3) Have a conjugated system, i.e. a structure with alternating double and single bonds.
4) Exhibit resonance of electrons, which is a stabilizing force in organic compounds . 
When any one of these features is lacking from the molecular structure the colour is lost. In addition to chromophores, most dyes also contain groups known as auxochromes (colour helpers), examples of which are carboxylic acid, sulfonic acid, amino, and hydroxyl groups. While these are not responsible for colour, their presence can shift the colour of a colourant and they are most often used to influence dye solubility. Figure 1 shows the relationships between wavelength of visible and colour absorbed/observed. 
Figure 1: . Wavelength of light absorption versus colour in organic dyes