Monday, September 19, 2011

Why Organic Molecules Are White

I visited my chemistry professor from last year and gave him the gifts from Taiwan. I asked him why are most organic molecules that contain only carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, and sometimes phosphorous and sulfur white / translucently white? Those brilliantly colored crystallines usually contain transition metals.

So the reason is that: For a molecule to have colors, its electrons must be able to absorb EM waves, be excited, and jump onto the higher energy level. When the electrons descent back to the low energy level, they emit a certain amount of energy as photons. For molecules with C, H, N, etc., the gaps between the lower and the higher energy level are too big to be excited by visible lights. However, they do absorb infrared light and can be excited by ultraviolet light.

Why some molecules have colors: Some molecules such as the red-orange carotenoid, or the pigment in carrots, possess colors and the trick is located on their series of double bonds. The electrons on the pi bonds have much lower gaps between energy levels so they can be easily excited and emit photons within the visible spectrum. LOL White, or even transparent carrots just sound much less delicious.


Glad that I'm leaning new things everyday. Perhaps too much that I can't take them!


  1. Beta-carotene is a very long molecule. lol

  2. 真的會有透明的胡蘿蔔素?


  3. All carotenoids are pretty long.

    LOL someone didn't read my blog carefully. From what I've heard all carotenoids are colored, ranging from yellow to orange to red. What I meant was if carrots don't have color, they won't look as delicious.

    I gave the professor the sweets and one of those sachets.
    Most people gave positive feedback. A few didn't like the one with red jujube.