Originally published in Terra Magazine

By: Nick Houtman

October 15, 2014

Mas Subramanian didn’t expect to find a brilliant blue pigment when he was looking for new semiconductors. But the Milton Harris Chair Professor of Materials Science in the Oregon State University Department of Chemistry was shocked in 2009 when he saw a graduate student take a powder with a vibrant blue hue out of a laboratory furnace.

The student was worried. He thought it was a mistake.

“We were trying to find a material with novel magnetic properties for electronics applications, but it didn’t work. I didn’t think it would have a special color. I expected it to be brown or black,” says Subramanian, who grew up in Madras (now called Chennai), India, and received his Ph.D. at the Indian Institute of Technology. “But when I saw what he had, I knew this was something unusual.”

The new blue is stable and relatively non-toxic. Produced at temperatures in excess of 2,200 degrees Fahrenheit, it reflects infrared energy and may thus help to cool buildings and reduce air conditioning costs. And it can be “tuned,” says Subramanian, to produce a range of shades from sky blue to nearly black.  Read more…

See also: Mas Subramanian featured in ChemMatters

See also: Mas Subramanian featured in Scientific American