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Accidental discovery produces durable new blue pigment for multiple applications
Date:11/16/2009

CORVALLIS, Ore. An accidental discovery in a laboratory at Oregon State University has apparently solved a quest that over thousands of years has absorbed the energies of ancient Egyptians, the Han dynasty in China, Mayan cultures and more the creation of a near-perfect blue pigment.

Through much of recorded human history, people around the world have sought inorganic compounds that could be used to paint things blue, often with limited success. Most had environmental or durability issues. Cobalt blue, developed in France in the early 1800s, can be carcinogenic. Prussian blue can release cyanide. Other blue pigments are not stable when exposed to heat or acidic conditions.

But chemists at OSU have discovered new compounds based on manganese that should address all of those concerns. They are safer to produce, much more durable, and should lead to more environmentally benign blue pigments than any being used now or in the past. They can survive at extraordinarily high temperatures and don't fade after a week in an acid bath.

The findings were just published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, and a patent has been applied for on the composition of the compound and the process used to create it. The research was funded by the National Science Foundation.

"Basically, this was an accidental discovery," said Mas Subramanian, the Milton Harris Professor of Materials Science in the OSU Department of Chemistry. "We were exploring manganese oxides for some interesting electronic properties they have, something that can be both ferroelectric and ferromagnetic at the same time. Our work had nothing to do with looking for a pigment.

"Then one day a graduate student who is working in the project was taking samples out of a very hot furnace while I was walking by, and it was blue, a very beautiful blue," he said. "I realized immediately that something amazing had happened."

What had happened, the r
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Contact: Mas Subramanian
mas.subramanian@oregonstate.edu
541-737-8235
Oregon State University
Source:Eurekalert

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