First New Blue Pigment in Over 200 Years is Being Made into a Crayon

New Blue YlnMn Blue Crayola Crayon

Photo: Oregon State University

In 2009, chemist and Oregon State University professor Mas Subramanian was leading an electronics-related project when he and a student inadvertently made an exciting discovery: a new blue pigment. Called YlnMn blue, the brilliant color is the first new blue in over 200 years and, subsequently, the inspiration behind the newest Crayola crayon.

There are several reasons why Crayola wants to give this bright blue pigment the waxy treatment. In addition to its vivid shade—which will, no doubt, translate beautifully onto paper—YlnMn blue is known as a “durable” color. This means that, even when mixed with water or subjected to changes in temperature, it won't fade. Similarly, it's easily reproducible. These chromatic quirks make it appealing to crayon connoisseurs and commercial companies alike.

YlnMn blue was accidentally uncovered when Subramanian and a student combined and heated manganese oxide, yttrium, and indium. When they found that the reaction resulted in a dazzling electric blue, Subramanian knew that they'd stumbled upon something special. “It was serendipity, or a happy accident, because we weren’t looking for it,” he told Fast Company. “Most of the science discoveries come from an unexpected place.”

Boxes featuring the new blue crayon are expected to hit the shelves by the end of the year. Before it can make its grand debut, however, YlnMn will be receive a snazzy new name, courtesy of a colorful contest held by Crayola.

Crayola has decided to turn YlnMn blue, the first new blue pigment in 200 years, into a crayon.

New Blue YlnMn Blue Crayola Crayon

New Blue YlnMn Blue Crayola Crayon

The new blue was discovered by scientist Mas Subramanian in 2009.

New Blue YlnMn Blue Crayola Crayon

Photo: Karl Maasdam/Oregon State University

New Blue YlnMn Blue Crayola Crayon

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h/t: [Fast Co. Design]

All images via Crayola unless otherwise stated.

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Kelly Richman-Abdou

Kelly Richman-Abdou is a Contributing Writer at My Modern Met. An art historian living in Paris, Kelly was born and raised in San Francisco and holds a BA in Art History from the University of San Francisco and an MA in Art and Museum Studies from Georgetown University. When she’s not writing, you can find Kelly wandering around Paris, whether she’s leading a tour (as a guide, she has been interviewed by BBC World News America and France 24) or simply taking a stroll with her husband and two tiny daughters.
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