It’s Not Every Day We Get a New Blue

Maritime, mysterious and the true shadow of many social networks, blue is a color that has a deep cultural touch, while it is almost impossible to find in nature. According to scientists, the blues that bloom in nature – a butterfly, a navy beetle, even blue eyes – are not originally blue, but reflections of light.

Since ancient times, blue has been associated with rarity and expense; Ultramarine – a pigment originally made from grinding lapis lazuli, a semi-gemstone found in Afghan mines – was once equivalent to gold.

Today, our blues are manufactured by chemists in laboratories. But this does not mean that it is easy or common to build new sheds.

Before 2009, when a team of chemists at Oregon State University developed a color that is now known YInMn Blue (Quite unexpectedly), it was 200 years since the first inorganic blue pigment was created. (It was a cobalt, discovered by French chemist Thénard In 1802)

Now, YInMn Blue is available for artists As a paint And for commercial use. (The Environmental Protection Agency approved it in 2017 for industrial coatings and plastics.) It has a home in the collection of the Forbes Pigments collection at Harvard University, and has even inspired a spectrum of Creola crayons – Which is called a strike shed. Bluetiful. “

The shed was invented by Mas Subramanian, a professor of materials science at Oregon State University, who was working with a team of graduate students to develop an organic material that could be used for electronic devices. When he had sampled a specimen placed in a furnace, a vibrant, vibrant color of ultramarine, Drs. Subramanian said he immediately realized that the “brilliant, very intense blues” were nothing like he hadn’t seen before, and would be better suited to use. Paint on pieces of technology.

“I was very curious why manganese did this because manganese is not known in pigment. So I was surprised and thought we might have made a mistake,” he said in an interview. “Then we decided to repeat the experiment.”

The blue color proved to be stable, but it could be changed slightly to change the color. “We decided ‘well, it’s interesting for the pigment industry,” Dr. Subramanian said.

Its name for the new blue color is derived from its chemical constituent symbols on the periodic table of elements: yttrium, indium, and manganese.

The peculiarity of YInMn Blue is that it is not only Dr. Subramanian is able to be widely copied through the formula, but is also nontoxic, making it safer to use – and perhaps even more environmentally friendly. Dr. Subramanian said, “People think that everything associated with the periodic table has some toxicity.” “But this material is very stable so far, it does not leak out in the event of rain or any acid.”

(Cobalt, on the other hand – though a boon for 19th-century artists who had previously relied on farming from rare, cost-prohibitive gems such as lapis lazuli – was highly toxic.)

“I know from experience that blue is a difficult color to paint,” Dr. Subramanian said. “Most of nature’s blues are not real blues because they are all mostly created in the same way that light is reflected from objects.”

Nevertheless, together, at extremely high temperatures of 2,300 degrees Fahrenheit, the chemical compounds yttrium, indium, and manganese combined to form a true blue. And unlike organic plant-based hues that become less durable over time, this chemically derived color will not change.

The Forbes Pigment Collection The Harvard Art Museum has over 2,500 pigments; YInMn Blue has recently been added and featured prominently in a small display case on the fourth floor. Narayan Khandekar, a senior conservation scientist and director Straैसe Center for Conservation and Technical Studies At the Harvard Art Museum, following the development of this pigment for years, and requested some samples from YInMn as soon as possible to be added to the collection.

When Pigments entered the market, Mr. Khandekar said, he and his team would have to work to monitor samples immediately “because we believe these are things that are to be used in future artist materials. ” Even when YInMn was fairly new, before being commercially available, a prototype of a tube of artists’ paint in color was created by the paint company Derivan and given to the Forbes Collection.

Dr. Subramanian’s blue color also made it into the collection because it is a rare example of a completely modern pigment, unlike many of the pigments of the Middle Ages that are kept in the collection.

He said, “It’s a wonderful thing to be able to see just one thing that was an accident.” And then identify how it can be implemented that he had no experience, ”said Mr. Khandekar. Said to Subramanian. “You’ve got a synthetic ultramarine, which came out in 1826, but it was synthesizing an already known pigment.”

There will be naysayers – people who say they can’t see much difference between Ultramarine and YInMn Blue. But, Dr. Subramanian said: “This is a very special discovery because this is the first time my discovery has reached society with so much diversity – artists, architects, fashion industries, even the cosmetics industry. I never thought that my search would go this far. “He said:” It changed my life. “

Mr. Khandekar agreed. “It’s not often that you come up with a synthetic inorganic pigment,” he said.

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