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Scientists Discover a New, Brilliant Blue


Oregon State University (OSU) chemist Mas Subramanian and his team discovered YInMn blue — named after the elements Yttrium, Indium and Manganese — while experimenting with materials for electronics applications. According to the OSU press release, the beautiful blue was discovered through a chemistry lab accident back in 2009 and is now going into the marketplace. “It was serendipity, actually; a happy, accidental discovery,” Subramanian said in the statement.

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Photo courtesy Oregon State University

While the color looks similar enough to cobalt blue, its properties are stronger and more durable. According to Subramanian, "The new pigment is formed by a unique crystal structure that allows the manganese ions to absorb red and green wavelengths of light, while only reflecting blue. The vibrant blue is so durable, and its compounds are so stable – even in oil and water – that the color does not fade. These characteristics make the new pigment versatile for a variety of commercial products. Used in paints, for example, they can help keep buildings cool by reflecting infrared light...[and] none of the pigment’s ingredients are toxic."

Another possible use of the product may be in roofing materials. "The new pigment is a “cool blue” compound that has infrared reflectivity of about 40 percent – much high than other blue pigments – and could be used in the blue roofing movement," according to the OSU press release.

Subramanian is now attempting to discover other new pigments through his "accidental" experimentation techniques. What other exciting color discoveries are yet to be discovered?