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Crayola to Welcome a New Blue Crayon

Picture of Rachel Gould
Art & Design Editor
Updated: 31 May 2017
The accidental discovery of YInMn Blue in 2009 has led to the addition of a new Crayola crayon.

The first new blue pigment introduced in over two centuries, YInMn blue was the unexpected result of a test conducted at Oregon State University in 2009 by Andrew Smith, a graduate student, and Professor Mas Subramanian to see whether a heated concoction of manganese oxide, yttrium, and indium could be of use in electronics. Rather, the result was a durable bright blue color.

Blue Pigment
Blue Pigment | © Oregon State University

The discovery of YInMn blue is exciting for artists and scientists alike. “What is amazing is that through much of human history, civilizations around the world have sought inorganic compounds that could be used to paint things blue but often had limited success,” Subramanian explained in a recent statement. “Most had environmental and/or durability issues. The YInMn blue pigment is very stable/durable. There is no change in the color when exposed to high temperatures, water, and mildly acidic and alkali conditions.”

YInMn blue is non-toxic, and thanks to its unique chemical makeup by which it absorbs red and green light and exclusively reflects blue wavelengths, its bold pigment is fade-resistant.

Naturally, it made sense to market this user-friendly color to the public. Oregon State was granted the rights to the pigment in 2015 alongside the Shepherd Color Company, who subsequently partnered with Crayola. In April, Crayola announced the production of a new crayon that would make YInMn blue widely accessible to artists young and old.

The new crayon will make its way into Crayola boxes later in 2017. And since “YInMn blue” isn’t quite so catchy, Crayola is inviting the public to pitch names through a contest, which will remain open until June 2.