Helium is vital to scientific advancement.
Helium is colourless, odorless, non-combustible, tasteless, inert, and has the lowest boiling point of all elements on the periodic table. Due to these unique properties, helium is useful in many applications that are critical to science, healthcare, technology, and advanced research.
Helium’s unique properties are utilized by facilitating heat transfer in high tech manufacturing. Semiconductors, which are an essential component of electronic devices, are projected to reach a market size of over US$600 billion in 2022 with continued forecasted growth (Semiconductor Industry Association) and require helium to create a protective atmosphere during production.
Since helium is inert and has the lowest boiling point of any element, it lends itself to several cryogenic applications. In healthcare, helium is most commonly used as a coolant for superconducting magnets in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machines and nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectrometers.
Helium is used by the space exploration industry for pressure purging operations where the element is added to rocket fuel tanks to preserve pressure as fuel is burned. Helium in space exploration has become an increasingly important use case as private space exploration continues to expand.
Helium is used for several scientific research related applications. Similar to its medical application, helium is useful for cooling superconducting magnets used in particle accelerators such as The Large Hadron Collider owned by CERN. Helium is also used in quantum computing, gas chromatography, and in helium-ion microscopes.