OSA's Digital Library

Journal of the Optical Society of America

Journal of the Optical Society of America

  • Vol. 25, Iss. 8 — Aug. 1, 1935
  • pp: 249–249

The Theory of the Maximum Visual Efficiency of Colored Materials

DAVID L. MACADAM  »View Author Affiliations

JOSA, Vol. 25, Issue 8, pp. 249-249 (1935)

View Full Text Article

Acrobat PDF (346 KB)

Browse Journals / Lookup Meetings

Browse by Journal and Year


Lookup Conference Papers

Close Browse Journals / Lookup Meetings

Article Tools



The term “visual efficiency” is used here to represent interchangeably the concepts of visual transmission factors of filters and of visual reflection factors of reflecting surfaces. Fluorescent substances are excluded from consideration. A material exhibits hue because visible radiation in some wavelength bands is more or less completely absorbed. This partial absorption of incident energy, necessary for the appearance of hue, obviously decreases the visual efficiency below the unit efficiency characteristic of a nonabsorbing, hueless, white material. Of all the conceivable spectrophotometric curves of materials exhibiting a given chromaticity when illuminated with light of a specified quality, there must be at least one which yields a maximum value for the visual efficiency. This paper describes the general type of spectrophotometric curve which is known to have this unique property. A new proof of the validity and uniqueness of this type of curve is presented. This proof takes advantage of the simplifications made available by the adoption of the I. C. I. 1931 coordinate system for colorimetry.

DAVID L. MACADAM, "The Theory of the Maximum Visual Efficiency of Colored Materials," J. Opt. Soc. Am. 25, 249-249 (1935)

Sort:  Author  |  Journal  |  Reset


  1. W. Ostwald, Königle Sächs. Ges. d. Wiss. Abh. d Math.-Phys. 34, 471 (1917); Physik. Zeits. 17, 328 (1916).
  2. Erwin Schrödinger, Theorie der Pigmente von grösster Leuchtkraft, Ann. d. Physik 62, 603 (1920).
  3. Luther, Zeits. f. tech. Physik 8, 540 (1927).
  4. Nyberg, Zeits. f. Physik 52, 407 (1928).
  5. S. Rösch, Fortshritte der Mineral., Krist. & Petr. 13, 143 (1929).
  6. H. P. Gage, J. O. S. A. and R. S. I. 18, 167 (1930).
  7. D. B. Judd, The I. C. I. Standard Observer and Coordinate System for Colorimetry, J. Opt. Soc. Am. 23, 359 (1933).

Cited By

Alert me when this paper is cited

OSA is able to provide readers links to articles that cite this paper by participating in CrossRef's Cited-By Linking service. CrossRef includes content from more than 3000 publishers and societies. In addition to listing OSA journal articles that cite this paper, citing articles from other participating publishers will also be listed.

« Previous Article  |  Next Article »

OSA is a member of CrossRef.

CrossCheck Deposited