, Volume 94, Issue 11, pp 935-939
Date: 30 May 2007

Physicochemical and physiological basis of dichromatic colour

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Abstract

Out of three perceptual characteristics of the colour of any substance, the hue depends mostly on the spectral properties of a substance, while the brightness and saturation depend also on the concentration of a substance and its thickness. Here, we report that evident change of the hue of the colour (i.e., from green to red) is due to a change in concentration or the thickness of a layer in some exceptional substances such as pumpkin seed oil or an aqueous solution of bromophenol blue. In some regions of Central Europe, salad dressing is made preferably with the pumpkin seed oil, which has a strong characteristic nut-like taste and remarkable properties of the colour: it appears red in a bottle, but green when served as a salad dressing. The colour of the pumpkin seed oil was previously described as brownish yellow, dark green, dark green to red ochre or dark reddish brown to light yellow green. We elucidated the physicochemical and physiological basis of such dichromatism by Beer-Lambert law and by the characteristics of human colour perception. Our concept was corroborated by the outcome of calculations of colour from spectral properties using colour matching functions. We found that dichromatism is observed if the absorption spectrum of any substance has at least two local minima: one wide but shallow and one narrow but deep local minimum.