From the world's first synthetic plastic, to the X-rays and the penicillin- some of the world's best inventions were "accidents". And now, their kind has been created again, in the form of a new pigment.
Discovered in 2009 by Mas Subramanian, a chemistry professor at Oregon State University, YInMn (pronounced yin-min) is a combination of the oxides of yttrium (Y), indium (In), and manganese (Mn) out of a furnace (hence the name).
It's the first new blue pigment in 200 years- since 1802, when Louis Jacques Thenard discovered cobalt blue. This certain shade is a very stable compound, and can be produced easily, and reflects heat, making it really valuable for manufacturing purposes.
“It was serendipity, or a happy accident, because we weren’t looking for it,” Subramanian says. “Most of the science discoveries come from an unexpected place.”
He also made more pigments using similar chemical structure, replacing the manganese for other elements like iron, copper, zinc and titanium. This produced colors such as green, orange, turquoise and purple.
Crayola had catch the wind of this and was interested in using Mas' bright, brilliant blue shade for a new crayon color. But since YInMn Blue isn't a very good name for them, the company is holding a competition to name the color, as if that's going to be a good thing (the internet is notorious in naming stuff; hello trolls). Subramanian's vote? Mas Blue.
“Creativity and innovation are part of being a successful scientist. As chemists we are just like kids," he says. So I understand the excitement of adding a new color to the box. For me, it’s like adding a new element to the periodic table. The possibility of creating new materials would be endless.”
YInMn Pigment Range
So, submit your name ideas to Crayola now and win prizes!
Here's to accidental discoveries!