In heme synthesis, porphyrinogens are colorless but upon their oxidation (from removing 6 hydrogen atoms), they become colored porphyrins. Why does the change in color occur? Is red the only color it can turn into or are there others (if so, what does that depend on)?

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Another color is green: chlorophyll. A synthetic molecule is tetraphenylporphyrin, which is blue. $\endgroup$ – LDC3 Jul 28 '15 at 1:14

The precursor porphyrinogen does not have a conjugated pi system that spans the macrocyclic ring. On oxidation to porphyrin, however, the macrocyclic ring becomes fully "conjugated", i.e. connected by sp2 hybridized atoms. The HOMO/LUMO spacing in such systems is much narrower than in non-conjugated systems, which means the photon energy required to excite electrons into the LUMO is lowered from "deep" UV to the visible region, resulting in strong absorbance of light in the visual frequency range.

| improve this answer | |

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.