Looking to paint your bathroom a new shade of blue? Don’t like any of the current options? Fear not – scientists have just accidentally discovered one for you.
Back in 2009, Professor Mas Subramaniun from the Department of Chemistry at Oregon State University was running experiments designed to create new materials for electronics.
By pure chance, one of his graduate students who was experimenting with manganese oxides and looking into their electronic properties, found one of his samples had turned a brilliant colour of blue.
So brilliant, in fact, that it was an entirely new shade, and this particular new pigment might even help make buildings more energy efficient.
Formed by heating black manganese oxide and other chemicals in a furnace to 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit, Subramaniun and his research group never intended to create new pigments, but rather to create new materials for applications in solid state electronics, Forbes reports.
But instead, they created a whole new shade.
Named after the elements it’s made out of, Yttrium, Indium and Manganese, the new pigment is called YInMn blue – not necessarily catchy, but I’m sure a nickname will pop up soon. The team have recently made the colour commercially available.
The unexpected finding solved a quest that has been around for thousands of years, according to the Daily Mail. The accidental find captured the imagination of ancient Egyptians, the Han dynasty in China, and Mayan cultures – to develop a near-perfect blue pigment.
Professor Subramanian, the Milton Harris Professor of Materials Science in the OSU Department of Chemistry, said:
Basically, this was an accidental discovery. We were exploring manganese oxides for some interesting electronic properties they have, something that can be both ferroelectric and ferromagnetic at the same time.
Our work had nothing to do with looking for a pigment. Then one day a graduate student who is working in the project was taking samples out of a very hot furnace while I was walking by, and it was blue, a very beautiful blue.
And the material is apparently so good at reflecting light that it may make a useful roofing material in hot climates.
So if you live somewhere warm, you may just have some trendy new blue houses around you soon.