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Distinguished Lecture Series Featuring Mas Subramanian

Date: Nov 6, 2017
Time: 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Location: Min Kao Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Building

From Breakthrough to Breakout: Painting a Picture of the Blues That Will Never Fade and Beyond

Mas Subramanian

Milton Harris Chair Professor of Materials Science
Department of Chemistry
Oregon State University

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Turning a scientific discovery in an academic laboratory into successful commercial products is never an easy task. To maximize the success, materials scientists often use ‘materials-by-design’ concepts in the quest of finding the Holy Grail – a better, safer, cheaper, sustainable material that can simultaneously perform many functions. This approach can occasionally lead to a serendipitous discovery of a material with unprecedented properties that could not be predicted and leads to industrial and consumer applications. This lecture is about how our quest for discovering a room temperature multiferroic material led to the startling discovery of a first durable vivid blue pigment in two centuries.

Through much of recorded human history, civilizations around the world have sought inorganic pigments to paint things blue, often with limited success and most had environmental and/or durability issues. Cobalt blue (CoAl2O4 spinel), the last durable blue inorganic pigment discovered in 1802, is durable but contains cobalt that is classified as a carcinogen. I will describe the discovery of a durable brilliant blue pigment based on transition metal oxides where manganese cations occupying an unusual trigonal bipyramidal geometry in the crystal structure that we were exploring for applications in magnetoelectronics such as multiferroics. We have leveraged this unexpected discovery to rationally design a family of next generation durable inorganic pigments exhibiting vivid colors through fine tuning of structure and chemical composition. The observed increased UV absorbance and high near infrared reflectivity (heat) demonstrate their use as durable ‘cool’ pigments for energy saving coatings for roofing and auto industry.  These pigments are now being commercialized by pigment industries for coating applications and artist colors. This talk will describe the materials chemistry aspects that are responsible for the brilliant colors exhibited by these pigments.

Blue Pigment Discovered By Mas Subramanian

Blue pigment discovered at Mas Subramanian’s lab at Oregon State University.


Mas Subramanian is the Milton Harris Chair Professor of Materials Science in the Chemistry Department at Oregon State University.  He previously held research positions at DuPont Central R&D (1984-2006).  Subramanian has authored 330 research publications and holds 58 US patents.

Subramanian received his PhD in Materials Chemistry from the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, India.  Subsequently, he was a NSF postdoctoral fellow at Texas A&M University.

Professor Subramanian’s research focuses on designing new inorganic solid state functional materials for emerging applications in electronics, energy conversion, and environment. He is internationally recognized for several scientific breakthrough discoveries in the field of superconductors, dielectrics, magnetism, catalysis, thermoelectrics, and inorganic pigments. Recently his discovery of an intense blue pigment, a first in 200 years, received widespread international attention and has been featured in several leading international press including NY Times, National Geographic, Time, NPR, BBC News, Times of India and others.

Professor Subramanian has received several awards and honors for his outstanding contributions to science including Charles Pedersen Medal awarded by DuPont Company for Excellence in Scientific and Technical Achievement (2004), F.A. Gilfillan Memorial Award for Distinguished Scholarship in Science from Oregon State University (2014) and 2016 Outstanding Scientist Award from Oregon Academy of Science.

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