Mas Subramanian, the Milton Harris Chair of Materials Science in the College of Science, has been awarded the prestigious Perkin Medal from the Society of Dyers and Colourists.

Subramanian was honored “for unique and outstanding contributions to the coloration industry through the development of a novel blue pigment.”

The SDC’s highest honor, the Perkin Medal was last awarded in 2005 and is given only in exceptional circumstances, defined as “inventions of striking scientific or industrial merit, applicable to, or connected with, the tinctorial industries.”

“I am much honored and humbled to be selected to receive the 2019 Perkin Medal,” Subramanian said. “As a chemist, I am thrilled to receive this medal, named after Sir William Henry Perkin, whose historical, serendipitous discovery of the purple dye mauveine is somewhat akin to our YInMn blue pigment discovery.”

YInMn blue was discovered by accident in 2009 when Subramanian and his team were experimenting with new materials that could be used in electronics applications.

The researchers mixed manganese oxide - which is black in color - with other chemicals and heated them in a furnace to nearly 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit. One of their samples turned out to be a vivid blue. Oregon State graduate student Andrew Smith initially made these samples to study their electrical properties.

YInMn blue is the first new blue pigment since cobalt blue was discovered in 1802. The pigment can be used in a wide range of coatings and plastics and in 2017 inspired a color of Crayola crayon: Bluetiful.

The Perkin Medal has now been awarded 25 times over its 111-year history, including for the synthesis of indigo, the discovery of nylon and terylene, and the invention of vapor-phase transfer printing.