The matter waves are not electromagnetic waves, so, can they be coloured like the visible region of the electromagnetic wave spectrum? Any examples as such?

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    $\begingroup$ Since they are not light, why would one 'color' them like light? $\endgroup$
    – Jon Custer
    Commented Mar 14, 2016 at 19:23
  • $\begingroup$ Color is a property of human vision and it applies to light only, just like Jon Custer said. Since color is linked to the energy of the light, one could interpret your question as asking if matter waves have spectral properties? The answer is positive. Yes, one can express matter waves in terms of spectra, however, the details are much more complicated than with light and one would not talk about "color". $\endgroup$
    – CuriousOne
    Commented Mar 14, 2016 at 20:33

2 Answers 2


Here are two answers, each with an extreme interpretation of what's meant by color. The real answer is that if you carefully think through what you mean by the word color, the question basically answers itself.

Sounds can be seen as color because with some forms of synesthesia, people hear sounds as having a color. But here it's not that sound activates neurons in the eye but this mapping occurs in the brain. This example emphasizes that "color" is a perception.

The physical mechanism of converting light to a color perception in the eye, that is, visual phototransduction via rhodopsin, is not activated by anything other than light (and some thermal activation). This emphasizes color as a property of light.

Although the second answer is probably more satisfying, it's also further from the more accurate definition of color, which is primarily a perception. For example, there's not a one-to-one map between color perception and light wavelength. Anything with the same RGB ratios will be perceived by humans as having the same color, so there's no one-to-one map, and also, that's just most humans. Other animals have different types of color sensitivies that aren't RGB: some humans have an additional yellow receptors; pigeons have a 4-color basis; there's a shrimp that has a 17-color basis; etc.

A more precise statement of your question might be: is there an energy transfer mechanisms other than light that can activate the full color visual perception pathway? The answer to that is... no. The primary reason for this is the activation of rhodopsin, which is the first step of light perception, and the rhodopsin protein is only sensitive to light (for all reasonably natural situations).


Matter could exist without us being able to see it, e.g. Dark Matter. What you see for the color of an object has nothing to do with the mere existence of that object. Colors have to do with photons while the existence of objects have to do with the wavefunction of the constituent particles and their interaction which would result in the existance of the object. And these constituent fundamental particles are more like fields rather than particles. You have a notion of colorness in the strong interaction which has nothing to do with the notion of color in EM fields.

  • $\begingroup$ @Benjamin-I don't have any wrong notion of matter not existing if it isn't coloured. My exact question is -" as the colors of the visible spectrum is a by-product of our eyes and brains in perceiving the energy of the incident photon, can it be possible for the matter wave to exhibit such energy which can be perceived by our brain and eyes giving rise to colors? " any examples? $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 14, 2016 at 19:43

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