The latest in our International Year of the Periodic Table series is scandium, our first foray into the d block elements. Scandium is used in lamps for film and photography, in strong but lightweight alloys for jets and sports equipment, and to detect leaks in underground pipes.

Scandium iodide is added to lamps used in film and photography, as it helps produce light which is similar in tone to sunlight. It’s also used for the same purpose in metal-halide lamps, which are increasingly used instead of mercury vapour lamps due to their higher efficiency.

Scandium metal is combined with aluminium to make a light but strong alloy. This alloy, which usually contains 0.1-0.5% scandium is used for aerospace components, and is the major application of this metal. Its properties have also seen it used for sports equipment, including baseball bats and bicycle frames.

A radioactive isotope of scandium, scandium-46, is used to detect leaks in underground pipes. It’s also used in oil refineries to monitor the movement of the different fractions of crude oil.

Remember, you can keep track of all of the previous entries in this series on the site here, or on the Royal Society of Chemistry’s dedicated page.