What happens to photons that don't get absorbed by a chromophore in the eye?

In summary, when a photon hits a chromophore in the eye that is not the right energy to be absorbed, it will simply pass through and potentially be absorbed by other tissues. This is due to the fact that every chromophore will absorb any photon that strikes it, but only those of the correct wavelength will trigger the chromophore to generate an electrical signal to the optic nerve. This concept also applies to other substances, such as carbon black, where the photons will be absorbed and cause the substance to become slightly warmer. The mechanism of absorption in these cases is not related to the specific wavelength of the photon, but rather the ability of the substance to generate an electrical signal in response to the photon.
  • #1
mutatron
2
0
I was explaining the physics of colors to someone in another forum, but I came to a point where I wasn't sure what happened next, what happens when a photon hits a chromophore in the eye and isn't the right energy to be absorbed by it.

So, suppose a "green" photon hits a chromophore that absorbs in the red. The photon goes straight past it, but then what happens? To me it seems like it would be absorbed by the next tissues it passes through, but if so, what is the mechanism of absorption there?

In a related question, what is the mechanism of absorption of photons hitting carbon black, for example?
 
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  • #2
It gets absorbed in the other tissue that's not sensitive to light, so it only gets a bit warmer.
 
  • #3
It's not really correct to say that particular chromophores only absorb particular wavelengths. Every chromophore will absorb every photon that strikes it - but only photons of the correct wavelength will trigger the chromophore to generate an electrical signal to the optic nerve.
 

1. What are photons and chromophores?

Photons are particles of light that travel through space and carry energy. Chromophores are molecules that are responsible for absorbing specific wavelengths of light.

2. How do photons interact with chromophores in the eye?

When photons enter the eye, they are absorbed by chromophores in the retina. These chromophores then convert the light energy into electrical signals that are sent to the brain via the optic nerve.

3. What happens to photons that are not absorbed by chromophores?

Photons that are not absorbed by chromophores in the eye continue to travel through the eye and are eventually either reflected or scattered. Some may also pass through the eye and continue on their path through space.

4. Can photons that are not absorbed by chromophores still affect vision?

Yes, photons that are not absorbed by chromophores can still contribute to overall vision by providing ambient light. They may also contribute to the perception of colors, as not all wavelengths of light are absorbed by chromophores.

5. Are there any potential implications of photons not being absorbed by chromophores in the eye?

One potential implication is that if there are not enough chromophores present in the eye, some photons may not be absorbed and vision may be affected. This can occur in conditions such as color blindness, where certain types of chromophores are missing or not functioning properly.

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