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A brilliant new blue pigment soon to be added to the Colour Index

A new inorganic pigment, discovered as the result of an accident, is now reaching the market place and will shortly be added to the Colour IndexTM.

The pigment is a brilliant blue, known as “YInMn” blue. It’s based on an oxide made of Yttrium(Y), Indium (In) and Manganese (Mn). The YInMn name is shorthand for that. The pigment will be used in a wide range of coatings and plastics.

A beautiful shade of blue, the pigment has excellent colour fastness properties.

So how did the discovery come about? Scientists at Oregon State University (OSU) were experimenting with new materials that could be used in electronics applications and they mixed manganese oxide – which is black in colour – with other chemicals and heated them in a furnace to nearly 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit. One of their samples turned out to be a vivid blue.

OSU chemist Mas Subramanian, Milton Harris Professor of Materials Science in the OSU College of Science said “It was serendipity, actually; a happy, accidental discovery. 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, including pigments. 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.”

The new pigment is formed by a unique crystal structure that allows the manganese ions to absorb red and green wavelengths of light, while only reflecting blue. The vibrant blue is durable, and its compounds are stable, even in oil and water, so the colour does not fade.

These characteristics make the new pigment versatile for a variety of commercial products. None of the pigment’s ingredients are toxic and this lack of toxic materials is critical and a hallmark of the new pigment.

Subramanian commented: “The more we discover about the pigment, the more interesting it gets. We already knew it had advantages of being more durable, safe and fairly easy to produce. Now it also appears to be a new candidate for energy efficiency.”

The researchers are continuing to test the pigment and to find more and more applications for it. Another commercial use, in addition to coatings and plastics, may be in roofing materials, and the pigment could carry implications for energy efficiency. The new pigment is a “cool blue” compound that has infrared reflectivity of about 40 percent – much high than other blue pigments – which means it could be used in roofing as well to keep buildings cool.

In addition to testing the blue pigment for other applications, Subramanian is attempting to discover new pigments by creating intentional laboratory “accidents.” Who knows what we may find?” he said.

OSU has reached an exclusive licensing agreement for the pigment with The Shepherd Color Company, which has its HQ in Cincinatti, Ohio. Shepherd is a fourth generation, family owned business, dedicated to being a world-class producer of complex inorganic pigments. “This new blue pigment is a sign that there are new pigments to be discovered in the inorganic pigments family,” said Geoffrey T Peake, R&D manager for Shepherd.

Shepherd is working with the SDC to register this product in the Colour IndexTM so it will have a Colour IndexTM Generic Name and Constitution Number. Details to follow. Colour IndexTM is published by the SDC and AATCC and is the definitive guide for essential colorants.

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Comments (1)

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    Kyung Ham


    If possible, small sample is requested near future.
    Shall I contact The Shepherd Color Company?


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