Summary of The Quest for the Next Billion-Dollar Color

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Next time you pick out that perfect shirt color for your skin tone or try to decide what hue to paint your bathroom door, take note: There is more to color than meets the eye. As Zach Shonbrun reports, manufacturing pigments is a complex undertaking, especially if you are trying to avoid harmful chemicals. Not surprisingly, demand for safe pigments that maintain their original color when applied to different materials are in high demand. Writing for Bloomberg, Shonbrun profiles a materials scientist who accidentally discovered a new type of blue. getAbstract recommends this article to anyone who wonders why the discovery of a unique shade of blue might make a scientist very wealthy.

About the Author

Zach Schonbrun is a contributing writer for The New York Times and the author of The Performance Cortex. 



Pigment research is an obscure yet highly complex area of chemistry.

Although modern computers can reproduce 16.8 million different colors, the difficulty lies in translating them into a pigment that humans can see and that different materials, such as paper, cotton, or metal, can accurately reflect. Many of the inorganic elements or compounds scientists have traditionally used to produce pigments are harmful to human health and/or the environment. Cases in point are lead, cobalt and cyanide. While chemists are able to replace some of these harmful elements with safe, organic ones, they have found that some colors, especially blacks, yellows and greens, are easier...

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