Cathie Montanez

  • Lake Forest, CA

The God of Light: Scandium

Posted by Cathie Montanez on September 5, 2019 5:40 AM EDT
Cathie  Montanez photo

Scandium is a soft, silver-white transition metal. In the past 30 years, scandium metal has been applied in many fields at home and abroad. 

A sodium halogen lamp with scandium added is radiant, penetrating clouds and mist, saving electricity and long life, which makes scandium has the reputation of "God of Light"!

In 1879, Swedish chemistry professors L. F. Nilson and P. T. Cleve discovered a new element in the rare mineral silyllium yttrium and the black rare gold deposit at about the same time. Nilson named Scandium (abbr. for Sc) after his native Scandinavia, and Scandium is the "boron like" element Mendeleev predicted.

In nature, there are only one stable isotope Sc45 of scandium, which has a constant valence of 3+. Scandium has an atomic weight of 44.956 and an atomic radius of 1.6641A. Without 4f electrons, the lanthanide shrinkage of scandium fails to reduce the atomic size to the corresponding size. As a result, the properties of scandium and rare earth elements are significantly different. This difference makes scandium hardly enter into the rare earth family. However, because scandium is associated with lanthanide rare earth elements in nature and has some similar properties, it is used to include scandium into rare earth elements.

Scandium is a soft, silver-white transition metal. The chemical activity of scandium metal can react with oxygen, hydrogen, fluorine, iodine, and acid-base to produce Sc2O3, ScH3, ScF3, ScI3, ScCl3, Sc (OH) 3, Sc2 (SO4) 3 and Sc2 (C2O4) 3, respectively. Scandium tends to form a dark yellow or gray oxide layer in the air, thus losing its shiny luster and darkening.

The uses of scandium metal

Because scandium metal is difficult to make, the uses of scandium have not been shown in the 100 years after its discovery. With the improvement of separation methods of rare earth elements, there have been quite mature technological processes for the purification of scandium compounds. After obtaining the pure scandium compounds, they are transformed into ScCl3, which is co-fused with KCl and LiCl. When molten zinc is used as a cathode for electrolysis, scandium will be precipitated on the zinc pole, and then zinc is steamed to get scandium metal.

In the past 30 years, scandium metal has been applied in many fields at home and abroad. At present, scandium metal has been well used in laser, electric light source (scandium sodium halogen lamp), alloy and civil and other fields. For example, scandium aluminum alloy and gallium scandium alloy are used in the structural parts of aerospace, missiles, automobiles, and ships; ScB2 is used in light temperature resistant alloys and electron gun cathode components.

Stanford Advanced Materials supplies high-quality scandium products to meet our customers' R&D and production needs. Please visit for more information.

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