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Photochromic - short version

A compound that changes colour with light intensity, for example, glasses that become sunglasses in bright light. It is added to materials as a dye.

Photochromic - long version

Photochromism is the reversible transformation of a chemical species between two forms by the absorption of electromagnetic radiation, where the two forms have different absorption spectra. Trivially, this can be described as a reversible change of color upon exposure to light. The phenomenon was discovered in the late 1880s, including work by Markwald, who studied the reversible change of color of 2,3,4,4-tetrachloronaphthalen-1(4H)-one in the solid state. He labeled this phenomenon "phototropy", and this name was used until the 1950s when Yehuda Hirshberg, of the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel proposed the term "photochromism". Photochromism can take place in both organic and inorganic compounds, and also has its place in biological systems (for example retinal in the vision process).


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