Why do things fade in the sun

(ORDO NEWS) — This or that material gets its color due to the peculiarities of the molecular structure, which is provided by unsaturated groups of atoms, known as “chromophores”.

These same chromophores absorb photons of visible light with certain wavelengths. The unabsorbed photons are reflected and enter our eyes, providing the color you and I see.

Over time, exposure to higher energy photons from sunlight causes damage to the complex structure of chromophores, which affects their ability to reflect photons of certain wavelengths.

For example, red materials are most sensitive to the “damaging” effects of sunlight, because their chromophores reflect red, while absorbing photons of all other wavelengths.

Among these absorbed photons are photons closer to blue, which represents the high-energy end of the spectrum. In addition, red materials are good absorbers of ultraviolet light photons, which are even higher energy.

Why do things fade in the sun 2

Thus, the red material is quickly “oversaturated” with energetic photons, which leads to rapid degradation of chromophores.

As a result, the chromophores that are supposed to reflect red light stop working properly and fade out. Materials of other colors are arranged in a similar way, but their chromophores “break” much more slowly.

Simply put, the color does not go anywhere when the materials fade – it’s just that the chromophores stop emitting it normally.


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