The First Blue Pigment Created in Over 200 Years to be Used in a Crayon

YInMn blue (photo courtesy Oregon State University)

YInMn blue (photo courtesy Oregon State University)

The first blue pigment to have been created in over 200 years will serve as the newest Crayola crayon. “YlnMn blue” was not developed within an arts context, but rather accidentally discovered in in an Oregon State University (OSU) chemistry lab in 2009. Graduate student Andrew Smith made the discovery alongside Mas Subramanian after combining manganese oxide, yttrium, and indium, elements which also serve as the inspiration for the pigment’s name.

“Most pigments are discovered by chance,” Subramanian explained in a statement. “The reason is because the origin of the color of a material depends not only on the chemical composition, but also on the intricate arrangement of atoms in the crystal structure. So someone has to make the material first, then study its crystal structure thoroughly to explain the color.”

YlnMn blue has a unique elemental structure which allows its manganese ions to absorb red and green wavelengths of light, only reflecting back a deep blue. This color is so durable that even when placed in oil or water it does not fade which makes it an attractive and versatile commercial product.

Shepherd Color Company, which received exclusive licensing to YlnMn blue in 2015, has since partnered with Crayola to launch its newest crayon. YlnMn blue’s name will be replaced this summer after a public rebranding contest by Crayola which ends June 2. The vibrant blue will take the place of Crayola’s yellow Dandelion crayon, which is being retired after a 27-year-run. (via Hyperallergic)

Photo courtesy of Karl Maasdam/Oregon State University

Professor Mas Subramanian gazes at YInMn blue which was discovered in his lab in 2009. (Photo courtesy of Karl Maasdam/Oregon State University)

See related posts on Colossal about , .