First New Blue Pigment Discovered in 200 Years

Crayola will create new "YInMn Blue" color that mimics combined hue of three elements.

May 13, 2017 5:00 am

Crayola’s upcoming blue crayon is a bigger deal than you’d think; the new crayon will be YInMn Blue, the first new blue pigment discovery in two centuries.

YInMn Blue was discovered by accident in Oregon State University chemist Mas Subramanian’s lab. Back in 2009, one of Mas’ students combined the elements yttrium, indium, and manganese oxides in a furnace, and the mixture turned bright blue in the heat.


Before that incident, the last person to discover a blue pigment was Louis Jacques Thenard, who introduced cobalt blue to the world in 1802. To put that in perspective, Thomas Jefferson was president when that discovery was made. Subramanian’s find, and Crayola’s new crayon supporting it, are both scientifically and historically significant.

Crayola will be rolling out YInMn Blue crayons toward the end of 2017, pending FDA approval, and will replace the now-retired Dandelion  Yellow crayon. And because YInMn Blue is difficult to pronounce, Crayola is holding a contest to rename it.

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