Element 68 in our International Year of the Periodic Table series is erbium. Erbium is used to make pink-tinted glass, in optical fibres, and in some types of dental surgery.

Erbium compounds are usually pink. They’re often used to colour glass pink, for example in camera filters and the lenses of sunglasses.

Erbium can also be added to the optical fibres that supply fibre internet. It is used to amplify the signal within the cables, allowing it to travel longer distances without fading away.

Erbium lasers are also used for some types of dental surgery – for example, enamel ablation.

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.