This question was inspired by this: Are there colorful metals besides gold and copper?

I was wondering how the color of a pure element could be changed. I know that it is possible for color to change when electrons to get excited, but I'm curious about how that works. Can you change the color of any element if you heat it up enough (I'm talking about the pure elements here, not compounds)? If not, then what limitations are there about changing color? And to ask something a little more specific, could the color of pure gold be changed without adding it to an alloy or compound?

Note: These questions Why does iodine have different colors in different media? What does a molecules color have to do with its bond/orbital energies? do talk about this topic, but I felt like they didn't answer my query satisfactorily.

  • 6
    $\begingroup$ You should read about allotropy I guess. $\endgroup$
    – Mithoron
    Aug 10, 2016 at 15:40
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Particle size can make a difference too. $\endgroup$
    – MaxW
    Aug 10, 2016 at 15:43
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ "Pure element" means that the only element present is the one considered, but this says nothing about the bonds between the element itself. As Mithoron said, allotropes are a nice example of this: just look, for instance, at the allotropes of phosphorus: just by binding phopsphorus in different ways you can get a black, white, red or violet compound. This is due to the different wavelenghts of light interacting with different bonds. $\endgroup$
    – user32223
    Aug 10, 2016 at 15:58
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ And consider black, conductive graphite and clear, insulating diamond. $\endgroup$ Aug 10, 2016 at 22:07


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.