Color of Solutions


Full Member
May 15, 2012
  1. Pre-Medical
    I recently ran into a problem on a practice test where it wanted to know why a metal produced a color in an aqueous solution. The answer was because the metal had unfilled d orbitals, and electrons can jump up and down between the orbital levels.

    I know that going back to the ground state will emit a photon of certain wavelength, but why would putting a metal in solution cause the electrons to be excited? Furthermore, does this mean that metals with a filled d orbital will be colorless in an aqueous solution?

    Colors of solutions were not in my review books so I am a little confused. Thanks in advance for the help!!


    Full Member
    5+ Year Member
    Feb 6, 2014
    1. Medical Student
      This question is sort of advanced. I'm pretty confident that you would not need to know more than the fact that transition metals produce colors because of d orbital transitions.

      So the color is caused by splitting of un-filled d orbitals and white light passing through the solution essentially causes the transitions. This is really an upper level inorganic chem sort of question but if ur curious u can find a bit more about it here
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