Combining Different Wavelengths of Light to make White

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Description

To find out more about the diagram above . . . . read on!

Combining Different Wavelengths of Light to make White

Look carefully at the diagram at the top of the page. Now check out the following questions (and answers)!

  1. What do the letters RGB refer to? 
  2. What do the letters ROYGBV refer to?
  3. What is the visible spectrum?
  4. What is white light?
  5. What is a continuous spectrum?

About the Diagram

Introducing the diagram! Read back and forward between the image at the top of the page and the explanation below!

This diagram looks at three situations in which an observer will see white light reflected off a dark surface.

Three different light sources are shown in the diagram.

  • Each light source produces a different combination of wavelengths and each wavelength has the same intensity.
  • The light source at the top of the diagram contains three component colours: RGB (red, green, blue).
  • The light source on the left contains six component colours – ROYGBV (red, orange, yellow, green, blue and violet).
  • The light source on the right contains a continuous spectrum of wavelengths which means it contains many thousands of component colours.
  • In each case, the light source is projected onto a dark neutral coloured surface.

Remember that:

The surface where the light sources are focused appear white:

  • When wavelengths corresponding with the three primary colours (RGB) are reflected off the surface towards an observer.
  • When wavelengths corresponding with ROYGBV are reflected off the surface towards an observer.
  • When all the wavelengths of the visible spectrum are reflected off the surface towards an observer.

Follow the blue links for definitions . . . . or check the summaries of key terms below!

Some Key Terms

Move to the next level! Check out the following terms.

Electromagnetic spectrum

The electromagnetic spectrum includes electromagnetic waves with all possible wavelengths of electromagnetic radiation, ranging from low energy radio waves through ...
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Primary colour

Primary colours are a set of colours from which others can be produced by mixing (pigments, dyes etc.) or overlapping ...
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RGB colour

To be clear about RGB colour it is useful to remember first that: The visible spectrum is the range of ...
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ROYGBV

ROYGBV is an acronym for the sequence of hues (colours) commonly described as making up a rainbow: red, orange, yellow, ...
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Visible spectrum

The visible part of the electromagnetic spectrum is called the visible spectrum. The visible spectrum is the range of wavelengths ...
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White light

White light is the name given to visible light that contains all wavelengths of the visible spectrum at equal intensities ...
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