Comparatively Speaking: Dye vs. Pigment

March 2, 2010 | Contact Author | By: Anthony J. O'Lenick, Jr., Siltech LLC
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A dye is a colored substance that has an affinity to the substrate to which it is being applied. The dye is generally applied in an aqueous solution. Categories of dyes are shown in Figure 1.

A pigment is a solid, insoluble material that changes the color of reflected or transmitted light as the result of wavelength-selective absorption. This physical process differs from fluorescence, phosphorescence and other forms of luminescence, in which a material emits light. Classes of pigments are shown in Figure 2.

Both dyes and pigments appear to be colored because they preferentially absorb some wavelengths of light. In contrast with a dye, a pigment generally is insoluble and has no affinity for the substrate.

1. M Balter, Clothes Make the (Hu) Man, Science 325(5946) 1329 (2009)
2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pigment



Figure 1. Categories of dyes1 by nature of their cromophore

▪ Category: Acridine dyes, derivates of acridine
▪ Category: Anthraquinone dyes, derivates of anthraquinone
▪ Arylmethane dyes
Category: Diarylmethane dyes, based on diphenyl methane
Category: Triarylmethane dyes, derivates of triphenyl methane
▪ Category: Azo dyes, based on -N=N- azo structure
▪ Cyanine dyes, derivates of phthalocyanine
▪ Diazonium dyes, based on diazonium salts
▪ Nitro dyes, based on a -NO2 nitro functional group
▪ Nitroso dyes, based on a -N=O nitroso functional group
▪ Phthalocyanine dyes, derivates of phthalocyanine
▪ Quinone-imine dyes, derivates of quinone
Category: Azin dyes
Category: Eurhodin dyes
Category:Safranin dyes, derivates of safranin indamins
Category: Indophenol dyes, derivates of indophenol
Category: Oxazin dyes, derivates of oxazin
Oxazone dyes, derivates of oxazone
Category: Thiazin dyes, derivates of thiazin
▪ Category: Thiazole dyes, derivates of thiazole
▪ Xanthene dyes, derived from xanthene
Fluorene dyes, derivates of fluorene
Pyronin dyes
Category: Fluorone dyes, based on fluorone
Category: Rhodamine dyes, derivates of rhodamine

Figure 2. Classes of pigments2

▪ Cadmium pigments: cadmium yellow, cadmium red, cadmium green, cadmium orange
▪ Carbon pigments: carbon black (including vine blac, lamp black), ivory black (bone char)
▪ Chromium pigments: chrome yellow, chrome green ▪ Cobalt pigments: cobalt violet, cobalt blue, cerulean blue, aureolin (cobalt yellow)
▪ Copper pigments: Han purple, Egyptian blue, Paris green, verdigris, viridian ▪ Iron oxide pigments: sanguine, caput mortuum, oxide red, red ochre, Venetian red, Prussian blue
▪ Clay earth pigments (iron oxides): yellow ochre, raw sienna, burnt sienna, raw umber, burnt umber.
▪ Lead pigments: lead white, cremnitz white, Naples yellow, red lead
▪ Mercury pigments: vermilion ▪ Titanium pigments: titanium yellow, titanium beige, titanium white, titanium black
▪ Ultramarine pigments: ultramarine, ultramarine green shade
▪ Zinc pigments: zinc white, zinc ferrite

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