Something like this only happens once in a blue moon.
The first new blue pigment to be discovered in the last 200 years is now for sale — but it’ll cost you a pretty penny.
The shade — dubbed YInMn Blue after its components — was created accidentally by chemists at Oregon State University back in 2009.
Eleven years later, the Environmental Protection Agency in May officially approved the vivid hue for commercial use.
It is now available in paint form at select stores across the country — though a 1.3-ounce tube can go for as much as $179.40.
Here’s what you need to know about the new blue:
How was it discovered?
Mas Subramanian, a professor of materials science, was in the lab with his students working on manufacturing new materials that could be used in electronics.
The team was experimenting with rare earth minerals and one graduate student, Andrew Smith, mixed Yttrium, Indium, Manganese and Oxygen at about 2,000 degrees.
When it came out of the furnace, the mixture that had turned a surprising blue color — and Subramanian knew the team had stumbled upon something special.
“People have been looking for a good, durable blue color for a couple of centuries,” he told NPR in 2016.
What makes it special?
The color’s appeal comes in part from how opaque it is, meaning not much of it needs to be applied for a good coat, according to Artnet News.
It’s more durable than pigments like Prussian blue and is also safer than Cobalt blue, which is a suspected carcinogen.
Plus, YInMn can be used for energy-saving coatings — because it strongly reflects infrared radiation, keeping it and whatever it adorns cool.
“The art world likes it because of the color,” said Mark Ryan, of Ohio’s Shepherd Color Company, which obtained a license to sell YInMn in 2016.
“The industrial world likes it because of what it can do in terms of environmental regulations for building products,” he added.
Georg Kremer, the founder and president of German paint-maker Kremer Pigmente, told Artnet that YInMn fills “a gap in the range of colors.”
“Our customers loved it from the very first moment they had seen it,” he said.
“The pureness of YInMn Blue is really perfect.”
Where can you get it?
The EPA first approved YInMn Blue for use in industrial coatings and plastics in September 2017 — and Crayola even introduced a new crayon inspired by the shade that year.
However, it took a lot longer for paint-makers and artists to get their hands on the pigment since testing for commercial use is a lot more rigorous.
Though it now has the EPA’s OK, YInMn paint is still a rarity on the shelves — but the pigment does sometimes pop up on Etsy, according to Subramanian.
Several paint companies have opted not to sell YInMn Blue products after testing the pigment, with some saying it was too expensive.
Some manufacturers, like Kremer, offer their own YInMn products. Golden Artist Colors in New Berlin, New York sells YInMn Blue paint, though only on a limited, custom-order basis.
Meanwhile, the Italian Art Store, a small business in Maine, sells 1.3-ounce tubes of the paint for $179.40.
“From what I can tell,” staffer Gail Fishback told Artnet, “most of the customers are buying it out of curiosity and for bragging rights.”
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