Question #58356

1 Answer
Mar 10, 2016

Answer:

The colour is caused by the extended system of conjugated double bonds in the structures.

Explanation:

Structure

First, let's look at the structures of chlorophyll a, chlorophyll b, and β-carotene.

plantphys.info

Chlorophyll a and b contain a magnesium in a large ring system of conjugated double bonds that forms a large cloud of delocalized electrons.

The two chlorophylls differ in structure only in that one has an aldehyde group and the other has a methyl group.

β-Carotene also has an extended system of conjugated double bonds.

Light Absorption

These molecules can absorb photons of light.

If they absorb low-energy quanta (red light), the electrons are excited to a low energy level.

If they absorb high-energy quanta (blue light), the electrons are excited to a higher energy level.

chlorophyll.co

Spectra

Spectra
(from www.lushledlighting.com)

Chlorophyll a absorbs at 430 nm (blue-violet) and 662nm (red-yellow). It doesn't absorb green light, so it appears green.

Chlorophyll b has strong absorption at 453 nm (blue-violet) and 642 nm (red-yellow). It doesn't absorb from the mid-blue-green so it appears bluish green.

β-Carotene absorbs at 448 nm (blue) and 470 nm (violet). It doesn't absorb from the red-yellow region, so it appears yellow.