Chemistry professor Mas Subramanian’s 2009 discovery of a vibrant and durable blue pigment, called YInMn because of its composition from the elements Yttrium, Indium, Manganese and Oxygen, is generating a new wave of worldwide media attention and interest.
News of Subramanian’s pigment discovery went viral recently following a Tech Insider online story and video. The story has reverberated across the Internet with more than 12 million shares at last count. YinMn is everywhere from Cosmopolitan, Slate, New York Magazine, TIME magazine and the Huffington Post to The Daily Mail, India Today, Mid-Day (Mumbai), BBC/Mundo and more. NPR devoted an in-depth feature on YInMn blue, which includes interviews with the Shepherd Color Company, Forbes Pigment Collection at the Harvard Art Museum and Pantone, LLC, the world-renowned authority on color.
Subramanian is amused at being called “a mad scientist” on th’nkdesign.com, which hypothesizes about the psychology of colors. NerdAlert.com has created an engaging Youtube video explaining the science involved in the now famous blue pigment that is easily digested by the general public. Futurism event created a cartooned caricature of the chemist.
The materials chemist has fielded calls from media worldwide and has been interviewed by Time magazine, NPR, Good Morning America and others attempting to satiate the public’s appetite for this unique scientific discovery. Mirror.co.uk is calling the pigment the best color in the world and has scientists raving about the new blue.
YInMn Blue, or “MasBlue” as it is commonly referred to at OSU, is a serendipitous discovery of a bright blue pigment by scientists led by Mas Subramanian, the Milton Harris Professor of Materials Science at OSU, while researching materials for electronics applications.
The blue pigment discovery was one of 12 nominated for NPR’s Golden Mole Award for best serendipitous discovery in 2016. NPR recognizes scientists who search for the significance of surprises, coincidences and mistakes. With a little curiosity and perseverance, good scientists turn unexpected incidents into new insights.
Subramanian and his team of researchers were excited to discover a brilliant blue, heat-reflecting, thermally stable, and UV-absorbing pigment. But since then they have moved beyond the blues, and expanded their research and made a host of new pigments in almost every color, from bright oranges to shades of purple, turquoise and green.
While artists have been using YinMn on their canvases for some time, the pigment made its prestigious debut into the art world recently. It has been added to the Forbes Pigment Collection at the Harvard Art Museums, which serves as the world’s history of color and includes pigments dating back to the Middle Ages.
Founded in 1910 by Harvard’s former director of the Fogg Art Museum, Edward Forbes, the Forbes Pigment Collection serves as a pigments laboratory to determine the authenticity of a work of art. Home to more than 2,500 pigments, the collection is of invaluable importance in the art world.
Last year, YinMn blue was licensed for commercial use by The Shepherd Color Company due to its extraordinary heat reflecting properties.
In a true art meets science moment, applied visual arts major Madelaine Corbin used the brilliant blue pigments in her artwork as part of an internship in Subramanian’s laboratory, her first foray into the world of chemistry. A writer contacted Subramanian about a children’s book about blue that she is writing to discuss the process the scientists followed when they discovered the new blue.
Looking to the future, Subramanian and his team are continuing their search for a new stable, heat-reflecting, brilliant red, the most elusive color to synthesize.
Subramanian’s work is funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF). Last year, he received nearly $1 million from NSF and other agencies and sources.
YinMn blue has captured the attention of people worldwide:
- Oregon Public Broadcasting’s “Think Out Loud” program (audio recording)
- Philadelphia magazine, who named Subramanian one of the 12 outstanding scientists in the region back in 1993 when he was a chemist at DuPont, along with four other scientists.
- Seventeen magazine
- Fox News
- A poem was written about the pigment, The Versatility of Blue
- A video of making YinMn Blue by an Australian company
Read the story of YInMN. Or watch the story unfold by following hashtags #MasBlue #YInMnBlue.