Traditionally, paints are granted color by solid, inorganic pigments evenly dispersed throughout their matrix. These pigments absorb most wavelengths of light but reflect a few remaining wavelengths, which generates the color we perceive with our eyes. Longer wavelengths (LWs) which carry heat, are also absorbed, and reflected in a similar manner to color, based on the physical and chemical properties of the paint pigments. Darker pigments, which absorb, rather than reflect, considerable amounts of LWs, create challenges for the temperature management of painted surfaces. Furthermore, the mass production of paint today results in severe hazards to our health and environment due to the pigments’ toxic composition. Therefore, new paint pigments that offer long-wavelength transparency regardless of shade, as well as a sustainable alternative, are of tremendous importance and necessity.

Technology Overview

Northeastern Researchers have created novel paint formulations that despite their darker colors, do not influence thermal management or long-wavelength performance. In other words, these shades are “long-wavelength transparent” paints. This is possible with the use of the biological molecule Xanthommatin, which can form an array of dark colors including reds and browns through the regulation of its chemical properties. Unlike other LW-reflective paints, which are limited in their efficacy due to their need to include black pigments to generate darker colors, Xanthommatin based paints require no added reflective components and can generate dark, yet highly reflective coatings. As an added benefit, Xanthommatin is also soluble in paint formulations, greatly decreasing the labor and resources required to generate desirable colors with little LW involvement. Finally, as Xanthommatin is a biological molecule derived from natural materials, these pigments are non-toxic and environmentally friendly.


  • Tailored long-wavelength performance
  • Improved thermal management
  • Non-toxic and environmentally friendly
  • Simple formulation and manufacturing


  • Thermal management coatings: for energy-efficient buildings
  • LW transparent coatings: for providing long-wavelength measurements that are not representative of actual temperature
  • Environmentally-friendly/green coatings: create paints that minimize risk to the user/applicator and/or environmental impact


  • License
  • Commercial Partner
  • Research Collaboration


  • Commercial partner
  • Licensing
  • Development partner

IP Status

  • Provisional patent
Patent Information:
For Information, Contact:
Vaibhav Saini
Senior Manager Commercialization
Northeastern University
Daniel Wilson
Leila Deravi
Environmentally friendly
Reflective materials
Thermal Management