Children will be able to colour the sky a different shade for the first time in 200 years, after scientists created a vivid “new blue” and Crayola announced it will offer it as a crayon.
In 2009, Oregon State University researchers made the serendipitous discovery of an entirely new colour while heating chemicals in a laboratory oven.
The bright blue shade is the first new blue pigment to be created since the French chemist Louis Jacques Thenard discovered cobalt blue in 1802.
Children will be able to get their hands on the new shade by the end of the year, after Crayola announced it was turning the pigment into a new crayon, to replace “dandelion” – a yellow shade that is being retired.
The new colour was discovered by accident by Mas Subramanian, a professor of materials science at Oregon State, who was working with students to manufacture new materials for use in electronics.
When he pulled a mixture of yttrium, indium, and manganese out of the furnace, he discovered it had turned a vibrant blue.
The new colour is so vibrant because the chemicals bind in a unique structure that completely absorbs red and green wavelengths of light, so only blue is reflected.
The compounds are also very stable so the shade will not fade and it is non-toxic.
Surprisingly, many of the colours of the rainbow, as seen on the light spectrum, have never been created or observed as a physical solid.
So to create a new shade, a completely new material has to be discovered that refracts and absorb light waves in an entirely new way.
Simply mixing two colours together does not produce a pure pigment.
Crayola is inviting children to help name the new colour, a competition that will close on June 2. – The Daily Telegraph