Mas Subramanian, a chemist and Oregon State University professor, was experimenting with exotic materials to use in electronics when, to his surprise, he accidentally created something completely unexpected — the first new blue pigment in centuries — YInMn blue.
Now, Subramanian’s pigment has captured the attention and imagination of Crayola’s and, as the name YInMn blue isn’t very “marketing friendly”, there is currently a competition to name the new blue crayon.
The discovery was made when one of Subramanian’s lab students pulled a combination of the oxides of yttrium, indium, and manganese out of the furnace back in 2009. To Subramanian’s surprise, the substance was a bright, brilliant blue. He knew immediately he’d discovered something.
“Creativity and innovation are part of being a successful scientist,” Subramanian says. “As chemists we are just like kids. So I understand the excitement of adding a new color to the box. For me, it’s like adding a new element to the periodic table. The possibility of creating new materials would be endless.”
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