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Colour and the Optical Properties of Materials: An Exploration of the Relationship Between Light, the Optical Properties of Materials and Colour, 2nd Edition


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Colour and the Optical Properties of Materials: An Exploration of the Relationship Between Light, the Optical Properties of Materials and Colour, 2nd Edition

Richard J. D. Tilley

ISBN: 978-0-470-74696-7 January 2011 526 Pages

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Colour and the Optical Properties of Materials carefully introduces the science behind the subject, along with many modern and cutting-edge applications, chosen to appeal to today's students. For science students, it provides a broad introduction to the subject and the many applications of colour. To more applied students, such as engineering and arts students, it provides the essential scientific background to colour and the many applications.

New to this Edition:

  • The chapter framework of the first edition will be retained, with each chapter being substantially rewritten and some material would be relocated. Some chapters will be rewritten in a clearer fashion, e.g. There have been no significant advances in the understanding of rainbows recently, but the text could be clarified and improved.
  • Colour has been an important attribute of many nano-particle containing systems, such as quantum dots. This aspect will be included, e.g. the colour of gold ruby glass, described in Chapter 5 as part of scattering phenomena now is better treated in terms of gold nanoparticles and surface plasmons. This would probably be transferred to Chapter 10 and considered in tandem with the colour of metals such as copper, silver and gold. A similar state of affairs applies to silver nanoparticles and polychromic glass.
  • Some chapters will include extensive new material, e.g. Chapter 8, colours due to molecular processes [organic LEDs etc], and Chapter 12, Displays, [touch screen technologies].
  • For all chapters it would be intended to take into account the current scientific literature up to the time of submission – say up to the end of 2009. The end of chapter Further Reading sections would reflect this up-to-date overview.
  • The end of chapter problems will be strengthened and expanded.

Related Resources


1 Light and Colour.

1.1 Colour and light.

1.2 Colour and energy.

1.3 Light waves.

1.4 Interference.

1.5 Light waves and colour.

1.6 Black body radiation and incandescence.

1.7 The colour of incandescent objects.

1.8 Photons.

1.9 Lamps and lasers.

1.10 Vision.

1.11 Colour perception.

1.12 Additive coloration.

1.13 The interaction of light with a material.

1.14 Subtractive coloration.

1.15 Electronic “paper”.

1.16 Appearance and transparency.

Appendix 1.1 Definitions, units and conversion factors.

Further reading.

2 Colours due to Refraction and Dispersion.

2.1 Refraction and the refractive index of a material.

2.2 Total internal reflection.

2.3 Refractive index and polarisability.

2.4 Refractive index and density.

2.5 Invisible animals, GRINS and mirages.

2.6 Dispersion and colours produced by dispersion.

2.7 Rainbows and halos.

2.8 Halos.

2.9 Fibre optics.

2.10 Negative refractive index materials.

Further reading.

3 The Production of Colour by Reflection.

3.1 Reflection from a single surface.

3.2 Interference at a single thin film in air.

3.3 The colour of a single thin film in air.

3.4 The reflectivity of a single thin film in air.

3.5 The colour of a single thin film on a substrate.

3.6 The reflectivity of a single thin film on a substrate.

3.7 Low-reflection and high-reflection films.

3.8 Multiple thin films.

3.9 Fibre Bragg Gratings.

3.10 “Smart” windows.

3.11 Photonic engineering in nature.

3.12 Further reading.

3.13 Problems and exercises.

Appendix 3.1 The colour of a thin film in white light.

Further Reading.

4 Polarisation and crystals.

4.1 Polarisation of light.

4.2 Polarisation by reflection.

4.3 Polars.

4.4 Crystal symmetry and refractive index.

4.5 Double refraction: calcite as an example.

4.6 The description of double refraction effects.

4.7 Colour produced by polarisation and birefringence.

4.8 Pleochroism and dichroism.

4.9 Nonlinear effects.

4.10 Frequency matching and phase matching.

4.11 More on second harmonic generation.

4.12 Optical activity.

4.13 Liquid crystals.

Further reading.

5 Colour due to Scattering.

5.1 Scattering and extinction.

5.2 Tyndall blue and Rayleigh scattering.

5.3 Blue skies, red sunsets.

5.4 Scattering and polarisation.

5.5 Mie scattering.

5.6 Blue eyes and some blue feathers.

5.7 Paints, sunscreens and related matters.

5.8 Multiple scattering.

5.9 Gold sols and ruby glass.

5.10 The Lycurgus Cup.

Further reading.

6 Colour due to Diffraction.

6.1 Diffraction and colour production by a slit.

6.2 Diffraction and colour production by a rectangular aperture.

6.3 Diffraction and colour production by a circular aperture.

6.4 The diffraction limit of optical instruments.

6.5 Colour production by linear diffraction gratings.

6.6 Two-dimensional gratings.

6.7 Estimation of the wavelength of light by diffraction.

6.8 Diffraction by crystals and crystal-like structures.

6.9 Disordered diffraction gratings.

6.10 Diffraction by sub-wavelength structures.

6.11 Holograms.

Further reading.

7 Colour from Atoms and Ions.

7.1 The spectra of atoms and ions.

7.2 Terms and levels.

7.3 Atomic spectra and chemical analysis.

7.4 Fraunhofer lines and stellar spectra.

7.5 Neon signs and early plasma displays.

7.6 The helium-neon laser.

7.7 Sodium and mercury street lights.

7.8 Transition metals and crystal field colours.

7.9 Crystal field splitting, energy levels and terms.

7.10 The colour of ruby.

7.11 Transition-metal-ion lasers.

7.12 Emerald, alexandrite and crystal field strength.

7.13 Crystal field colours in minerals and gemstones.

7.14 Colour as a structural probe.

7.15 Colours from lanthanide ions.

7.16 The neodymium (Nd3+) solid state laser: a four level laser.

7.17 Amplification of optical fibre signals.

7.18 Transition metal and lanthanide pigments.

7.19 Spectral hole formation.

7.20 Further reading.

7.21 Problems and exercises.

Appendix 7.1 Electron configurations.

Appendix 7.2 Terms and levels.

Further Reading.

8 Colour from Molecules.

8.1 The energy levels of molecules.

8.2 The colours arising in some simple inorganic molecules.

8.3 The colour of water.

8.4 Chromophores, chromogens and auxochromes.

8.5 Conjugated bonds in organic molecules: the carotenoids.

8.6 Conjugated bonds circling metal atoms: porphyrins and phthalocyanines.

8.7 Naturally occurring colorants: flavonoid pigments.

8.8 Autumn leaves.

8.9 Some dyes and pigments.

8.10 Charge transfer colours.

8.11 Colour change sensors.

8.12 Dye lasers.

8.13 Photochromic organic molecules.

Further reading.

9 Luminescence.

9.1 Luminescence.

9.2 Activators, sensitizers and fluorophores.

9.3 Atomic processes in photoluminescence.

9.4 Fluorescent lamps.

9.5 Plasma displays.

9.6 Cathodoluminescence and cathode ray tubes (CRTs).

9.7 Field emission displays (FEDs).

9.8 Phosphor electroluminescent displays.

9.9 Upconversion.

9.10 Quantum cutting.

9.11 Fluorescent molecules.

9.12 Fluorescent nanoparticles.

9.13 Fluorescent markers and sensors.

9.14 Chemiluminescence and Bioluminescence.

9.15 Triboluminescence.

9.16 Scintillators.

Further reading.

10 Colour in Metals, Semiconductors and Insulators.

10.1 The colours of insulators.

10.2 Excitons.

10.3 Impurity colours in insulators.

10.4 Impurity colours in diamond.

10.5 Colour centres.

10.6 The colours of semiconductors.

10.7 The colours of semiconductor alloys.

10.8 Light emitting diodes (LEDs).

10.9 Semiconductor diode lasers.

10.10 Semiconductor nanostructures.

10.11 Organic semiconductors and electroluminescence.

10.12 Electrochromic films.

10.13 Photovoltaics.

10.14 Digital photography.

10.15 The colours of metals.

10.16 The colours of metal nanoparticles.

10.17 Extraordinary light transmission and plasmonic crystals.

Further Reading.


"I would strongly recommend the book to anyone starting his or her study of optics ... You can always find an appropriate book, review or a paper, but you can rarely find a reference that is so modern, clearly written and comprehensive." (Optics & Photonics News, 11 November 2011)
Colour and the Optical Properties of Materials 2e Supplementary material includes worked problems and solutions, powerpoint slides and problems and exercises. Please apply for the password through