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Brief Published: 14 Jul 2016

YInMn Blue: A Revolutionary Pigment

YInMn Blue, a new pigment.

A vivid blue pigment discovered accidentally by a research team at The University of Oregon in 2009 will become commercially available later this year.

Named YInMn after the chemical elements it’s composed of (yttrium, indium and manganese), the pure blue pigment is almost completely unmuddied by other colours. It doesn’t fade over time, is stable when mixed with oil or water, and reflects a high proportion of infrared light. 

“These characteristics make the new pigment versatile for a variety of commercial products,” said Mas Subramanien, who led the research team. “Used in paints, for example, they can help keep buildings cool by reflecting infrared light [and] better yet, none of the pigment’s ingredients are toxic.”

The pigment was discovered by chance when the team were doing tests related to electronics. They found that samples of manganese oxides turned a brilliant blue when heated to nearly 1,100°C. The material has a crystalline structure that absorbs red and green light wavelengths, while reflecting blue wavelengths almost entirely. 

YInMn could be used in applications where temperature reduction is paramount – such as in cars and aircraft. Its durable nature also makes it useful for art restorers as a replacement for traditional blue pigments such as lapis lazuli and its chemically synthesised alternatives.

Read more about the history of blue pigment and its associations with wealth and spirituality in Sacred Colour: Precious & Emphatic Hues. For palettes that complement YInMn, take a look at our S/S 18 Colour Direction themes Perspective and Vibrant Matter.