Get ready to paint your house blue, because a new pigment is on the market that contains no toxins and can help keep buildings cool.
Discovered by Oregon State University (OSU) chemists in 2009, you can now buy the new colour, which is called YlmMn blue.
The colour was discovered accidentally by OSU chemist Mas Subramanian and his team while they were experimenting with materials to use in making electronics applications. The chemists mixed a black colour (manganese oxide) with other chemicals and put them in a nearly-2000 degree Fahrenheit furnace; one of the sample results came out as a vivid blue.
“It was serendipity, actually; a happy, accidental discovery,” Subramanian said in a statement.
The colour is going to be used in commercial products like coatings, plastic and paint – it may also be used in roofing materials. The ‘cool blue’ compound has infrared reflectivity at about 40 per cent, which is much higher than other blue pigments. Paints in this colour could help keep buildings cool by reflecting the infrared light, and the colour is so durable - even against oil and water – it won’t fade.
YlmMn blue is formed by a unique crystal structure, which allows the manganese ions to absorb red and green wavelengths of light while only reflecting the blue hue.
“The basic crystal structure we’re using for these pigments was known before, but no one had ever considered using it for any commercial purpose,” Subramanian said.
“Ever since the early Egyptians developed some of the first blue pigments, the pigment industry has been struggling to address problems with safety, toxicity and durability.”
So this new colour is more than just a beautiful blue.
“Now it also appears to be a new candidate for energy efficiency,” Subramanian said.