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Oregon State Chemists' Discovery Could Power New Products

OPB | July 27, 2011 7:54 a.m. | Updated: July 17, 2012 1:04 a.m. | Portland, OR

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Chemists at Oregon State University have discovered that the same crystal structure they identified two years ago to create a blue pigment, can also be used to create other colors.

In 2009, chemistry professor Mas Subramanian, was mixing various elements together to try to develop new compounds for use in the electronics industry. But when he heated one sample of manganese oxide, it turned a vivid blue.

The process has now been patented and could contribute to products including house paints that don’t fade, and roof paint that reflects more sunlight.

Subramanian says now they’ve figured out a way to tweak that same chemical structure to create a whole range of new colors. Those may be safer, more durable and more environmentally benign than tradtional paints.

“Most of the colors you see now, they’re primarily based on some organic dyes. But these are inorganic compounds, which are highly stable,” he said.

His latest findings were recently published in the scientific journal “Inorganic Chemistry.”

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