– The ancient Egyptians had an artificial blue pigment and so had the Maya. Now, we have YInMn blue!
Finding a new blue pigment doesn’t happen very often. The last time it occurred was 200 years ago. A chemist accidentally discovered the world’s newest shade of blue and Crayola has announced the new blue color will be turned into a crayon.
It’s a great scientific breakthrough that has has awakened the public’s interest in the science of colors, and of course children will be able to color the sky in a completely different shade of blue in 200 years.
The newest shade of blue was discovered by Mas Subramanian, a chemist and Oregon State University professor. As NPR notes, the scientific breakthrough was a happy accident. In 2009, a student in his lab combined yttrium, indium, and manganese oxides (a chemical compound that contains oxygen) in a furnace. When the team pulled the mixture out, the substance was a bright blue.
The new shade of blue was named YInMn blue for its composition from the elements Yttrium, Indium, Manganese and Oxygen
Crayola, a worldwide leader in children’s creative expression products says children will get their hands on the new shade of blue at the end of the years, as soon as it has been turned into a crayon.
“We strive to keep our color palette innovative and on-trend, which is why we’re excited to introduce a new blue crayon color inspired by the YInMn pigment,” Smith Holland, CEO and President of Crayola, said. The company is also holding a competition to name the new crayon, since YInMn Blue is pretty hard to pronounce.
Since ancient times, blue has been a color of importance and many ancient civilizations used artificial pigments. The Maya Blue has been a scientific puzzle mainly due to its unusual chemical composition. Maya blue is an extremely resistant artificial pigment. Despite time and the harsh weathering conditions, paintings colored by Maya blue have not faded over time. However, the blue pigment could be destroyed using very intense acid treatment under reflux.
The Egyptian Blue is considered by many to be the world’s oldest pigment. It appeared about 5,000 years ago in a tomb painting dated to the reign of Ka-sen, the last king of Egypt’s First Dynasty.
Scientists have discovered that the Egyptian blue pigment has extraordinary properties and will enable us not only to reconstruct the past, but also possibly to shape the technological future.
The science of colors is fascinating and new discoveries in this area can lead to other potential breakthroughs in science and technology.