How chemistry colors our world
Free special article collection celebrates Chemistry Week
By Rob van Daalen Posted on 21 October 2015
We perceive color as a result of light interacting with our eyes; the properties of physical objects can alter the way they absorb, reflect and emit light, changing the way we see them. Color is everywhere – including in chemistry. A chemical gets its color by electrons absorbing energy and becoming excited. That excitation absorbs wavelengths of light; what we see is the complementary color of the absorbed wavelengths.
Colors have a huge impact: they are fundamental in art, photography and fashion, they can affect our mood and productivity, and they can even be used in forensic science in the analysis of chemical composition.
National Chemistry Week 2015 focuses on the theme “Chemistry Colors Our World.” To celebrate the contribution researchers make through the work they publish in Elsevier’s chemistry journals, we have put together a collection of articles that showcase the spectrum of research in this theme. The articles cover everything from analyzing powder quality using color to identifying mystery painters.
From the yellow pigment of silkworms to the red dust of Mars …
Chemistry can help improve manufacturing techniques. Some wild silkworms produce silk that is naturally colored; a mutant of the domestic silkworm, B. mori, can spin yellow cocoons. This naturally colored silk is potentially valuable if it can be processed without damage and fading. A study published in Dyes and Pigments categorizes the yellow pigment to understand better how the silk could best be processed.
Research in chemistry can also tell us what’s happening on other planets. Mars gets its red glow because of a thin layer of oxidized dust. Despite decades of attention, its geological and climatic implications are still a matter of debate. Research published in Earth and Planetary Science Letters reveals hydroxylated ferric minerals may have a prominent role in the production of the dust.
Back here on Earth, human activity can lead to towns and cities being significantly warmer than surrounding areas. To tackle these urban heat islands,” cool roofs that reflect the sun’s rays can reduce the temperature. A study published in Ceramics International presents a new generation of colored glazes, which have the potential to perform better than existing materials.
Colors aren’t just functional – they’re also aesthetic. Art galleries all over Europe have collections of paintings they don’t show publicly because of their doubtful attribution and dating. A study published in Applied Clay Science shows that looking at the presence of clay-based materials in paintings can distinguish those from Italy and central Europe.
These and many other studies show the spectrum of research being done in chemistry to improve manufacturing processes, reduce our impact on the environment and give us a glimpse into the past.
Special Collection: Chemistry Colors our World
To celebrate the excellent research published in Elsevier’s chemistry journals, we have collated article collections that you can read for free in four subject areas: Chemistry, Earth & Energy, Engineering and Materials Science. Here is a selection of 12 articles – with free access until January 15, 2016.
The Generation of Interferometric Colors in High Purity and Technical Grade
Aluminum: An Alternative Green Process for Metal Finishing Industry
Yuting Chen, Abel Santos, Daena Ho, Ye Wang, Tushar Kumeria, Junsheng Li, Changhai Wang, Dusan Losic
Electrochimica Acta, August 2015
PMMA-supported Eu3 +-containing metallopolymer with high color-purity red
Xinyu Zhang, Zhao Zhang, Lin Liu, Chao Yu, Xingqiang Lü, Xunjin Zhu, Wai-Kwok Wong, Richard A. Jones
Inorganic Chemistry Communications, October 2015
effect of temperature, pH, and ionic strength on color stability of red wine
Zsuzsanna Czibulya, Ibolya Horváth, László Kollár, Martin Pour Nikfardjam, Sándor Kunsági-Máté
Tetrahedron, May 2015
removal from beet molasses by ultrafiltration with activated charcoal
Marta Bernal, María O. Ruiz, Ramona M. Geanta, José M. Benito, Isabel Escudero
Chemical Engineering Journal, January 2016
of the pigment in naturally yellow-colored domestic silk
Mingbo Ma, Munir Hussain, Suozhuai Dong, Wenlong Zhou
Dyes and Pigments, January 2016
of a digital colour imaging system for assessing the mixture quality of spice
powder mixes by comparison with a salt conductivity method
Pooja Shenoy, Fredrik Innings, Kristel Tammel, John Fitzpatrick, Lilia Ahrné
Powder Technology, December 2015
between anonymous paintings of the 17th and the early 18th century by
composition of clay-based grounds
David Hradil, Janka Hradilová, Petr Bezdička, Silvie Švarcová
Applied Clay Science, December 2015
Noachian source region for the “Black Beauty” meteorite, and a source lithology
for Mars surface hydrated dust?
P. Beck, A. Pommerol, B. Zanda, L. Remusat, J.P. Lorand, C. Göpel, R. Hewins, S. Pont, E. Lewin, E. Quirico, B. Schmitt, G. Montes-Hernandez, A. Garenne, L. Bonal, O. Proux, J.L. Hazemann, V.F. Chevrier
Earth and Planetary Science Letters, October 2015
of phosphate and silicate on the transformation of hydroxycarbonate green rust
to ferric oxyhydroxides
Xionghan Feng, Xiaoming Wang, Mengqiang Zhu, Luuk K. Koopal, Huanhuan Xu, Yan Wang, Fan Liu
Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, December 2015
of a cool color glaze for solar reflective tile application
C. Ferrari, A. Muscio, C. Siligardi, T. Manfredini
Ceramics International, November 2015
effect of phosphorus and nitrogen co-doped on the synthesis of diamond at high
pressure and high temperature
Bingmin Yan, Xiaopeng Jia, Chao Fang, Ning Chen, Yadong Li, Shishuai Sun, Hong-An Ma
International Journal of Refractory Metals and Hard Materials, January 2016
ink in all colors”—Printing ink from renewable resources
Progress in Organic Coatings, January 2015
Elsevier Connect Contributor
Rob van Daalen is a Senior Publisher at Elsevier, responsible for a portfolio of journals in Physical and Theoretical Chemistry. He studied Analytical Chemistry and is based in Amsterdam. He has held various positions within Elsevier and has been working as a publisher for eight years now.