Serendipity involved in discovery of brilliant new blue pigment

Me, I’m a blue person. I just prefer blue to other colours. I do, though, have a hankering for purple of Roman Emperors. Just a hankering mark you, nothing in my wardrobe of this colour. I do have weeks when it’s no blue – as happened on our recently holiday.

New blue pigmentEnough about me. What about this new blue pigment. Discovered accidentally by researchers at Oregon State University [OSU] in the USA. Here’s what the University say about the discovery,

OSU chemist Mas Subramanian and his team were experimenting with new materials that could be used in electronics applications and they mixed manganese oxide – which is black in color – with other chemicals and heated them in a furnace to nearly 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit. One of their samples turned out to be a vivid blue. Oregon State graduate student Andrew Smith initially made these samples to study their electrical properties.

It turns out this new blue 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. Better yet, Subramanian said, none of the pigment’s ingredients are toxic.

The new blue pigment is called ‘YInMn blue’. Methinks they need a better name than that. Can’t see me going into a shop and saying I’m looking for a shirt in YInMn blue. The Daily Mail article on the discovery goes into some of the science involved.

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