What is Rare Earth?
Only a few of us have heard of rare earths. Rare land is a series of chemical elements found in the earth’s crust that are important for many modern technologies, including consumer electronics, computers and networks, communications, clean energy, advanced transportation, health care, environmental mitigation, national defense, and many others.
Because of its unique magnetic, luminous and electrochemical properties, these elements help make many technologies work by reducing weight, reducing emissions, and consuming energy; or give them greater efficiency, performance, miniaturization, speed, durability and thermal stability.
This group of metals was first discovered in 1787 by a Swedish armed forces lieutenant named Karl Axel Arrhenius. He collected the black mineral ytterbit from feldspar mining and quartz quartz near Ytterby Village, Sweden. Then, this mineral was successfully separated by J. Gadoli in 1794, by obtaining Ytterbit minerals. Furthermore, the name of the mineral was changed to gadolinite in 1800.
The discovery of this new element, of course, triggered research that led to the discovery of other rare earth metal elements.
- In 1804 Klaproth and his colleagues discovered seria which was a form of oxide from Cerium.
- In 1828, Belzerius obtained thoria minerals from thorite minerals
- In 1842 Mosander separated compounds named yttria into three types of elements through fractional precipitation using oxalic and hydroxide acids. These elements are Yttria, Terbia and Erbia. So, in 1842, there were 6 rare earth metals that had been found, namely yttrium, cerium, lanthanum, didymium, erbium and terbium.
- In 1879, thanks to the instructions of Marc Delafontaine, Paul Émile Lecoq de Boisbaudran was able to obtain samarium from samarskit minerals.
- In 1885, Welsbach separated praseodymium and neodymium from samarium
- In 1886, Boisbaudran obtained gadolinium from Ytterbia minerals obtained by J.C.G de Marignac in 1880
- In 1907 from Ytterbia obtained by Jean Charles Galissard de Marignac, de Boisbaudran was able to separate the compound into Neoytterium and Lutesium. P.T. Cleve is able to separate the three elements from erbia and terbia owned by Marignac. He obtained Erbium, Holminium and Thulium. L. De Boisbaudran, was able to obtain another element called Disporsium.
Rare earth metal applications
Rare earth metals have been widely used in a variety of products. The use of rare earth metals triggers the development of new materials. New materials using Rare Earth Metals provide significant technological developments in material science. The development of this material is widely applied in the industry to improve the quality of their products. Examples of developments that occur in magnets. Rare Earth Metals are capable of producing neomagnets, namely magnets that have a magnetic field that is better than ordinary magnets. So as to enable the emergence of technological developments in the form of decreasing the weight and volume of existing speakers. Enables the emergence of a stronger dynamo so that it can move the car. So that with the presence of rare earth metals, it allows the emergence of electric-powered cars that can be used for long trips. Therefore hybrid cars are starting to bloom.
In metallurgical applications, the addition of soil metals is rarely used in the manufacture of high strength steel, low alloy (HSLA), high carbon steel, superalloys, stainless steel. Because soil metals rarely have the ability to increase the ability of materials in the form of strength, hardness and increased heat resistance. For example, in addition to rare earth metals in the form of additives or alloys in alloys of magnesiaum and aluminum, the strength and hardness of these alloys will increase significantly.
Other uses of soil metals are rarely hybrid and electric cars, fluorescent lights, plasma screens, portable computers, handheld electronic devices, wind power generators, and optical and medical devices. Some rare earth elements are an important element of automotive pollution control catalytic converters and petroleum fluid cracking catalysts. Land elements rarely have a variety of defense applications; they are used in precision guided ammunition (smart missiles and bombs), lasers, satellite communications, fighter jet engines and radar systems.
There are 17 elements which are considered rare earth elements – 15 elements in the lanthanide series and two additional elements which have similar chemical properties. They are listed below in the order of atomic number (Z):
Skandium or Sc (21)
Scandium, silvery white metal, is a rare non-lanthanide soil. It is used in many popular consumer products, such as televisions and fluorescent lamps or energy saving lamps. In industry, the main use of scandium is to strengthen metal compounds. The only source of scandium concentrated is currently known in rare minerals such as thortveitite, euxenite, and gadolinite from Scandinavia and Madagascar.
Yttrium or Y (39)
Yttrium is a rare non-lanthanide soil element that is used in many important applications, such as superconductors, powerful pulsed lasers, cancer treatment drugs, rheumatoid arthritis drugs, and surgical supplies. Silvery metal, also used in many popular consumer products, such as color television and camera lenses.
Lanthanum or La (57)
This silver-white metal is one of the most reactive rare earth elements. This is used to make special optical glasses, including infrared absorbent glass, camera and telescope lenses, and can also be used to make steel more easily formed. Other applications for lanthanum include wastewater treatment and petroleum refining.
Cerium or Ce (58)
Named for the Roman agricultural goddess, Ceres, cerium is a silvery white metal that is easily oxidized in the air. This is the most abundant rare earth element and has many uses. For example, cerium oxide is used as a catalyst in catalytic converters in automotive exhaust systems to reduce emissions, and is highly desirable for polishing precision glass. Cerium can also be used in iron, magnesium and aluminum alloys, magnets, certain types of electrodes, and carbon arc lighting.
Praseodymium or Pr (59)
This silvery soft metal was first used to make yellow-orange stains for ceramics. Although it is still used to dye certain types of glasses and gemstones, praseodymium is mainly used in rare earth magnets. It can also be found in applications that are as diverse as making high-strength metals found on aircraft engines and on flints to start fires.
Neodymium or Nd (60)
Soft metal neodymium, silver, is used with praseodymium to make some of the strongest permanent magnets available. Such magnets are found in most modern vehicles and aircraft, as well as popular consumer electronics such as headphones, microphones, and computer disks. Neodymium is also used to make high-powered infrared lasers for industrial and defense applications.
Promethium or Pm (61)
Although the search for elements with atomic number 61 began in 1902, it was not until 1947 that scientists conclusively produced and characterized promethium, named after the characters in Greek mythology. This is the only rare natural radioactive soil element, and almost all promethium in the earth’s crust has long been decomposed into other elements. Today, most are made artificially, and are used in watches, pacemakers and in scientific research.
Samarium or Sm (62)
This silvery metal can be used in several vital ways. First, it is part of a very strong magnet that is used in many transportation, defense, and commercial technologies. Second, together with other compounds for the treatment of intravenous radiation can kill cancer cells and be used to treat lung, prostate, breast and some forms of bone cancer. Because this is a stable neutron absorber, samarium is used to control the rods of nuclear reactors, contributing to their safe use.
Europium or European Union (63)
Named for continental Europe, europium is a hard metal used to make visible light in compact fluorescent lamps and in color display. Europium phosphorus helps bring bright red colors to the color screen and helps drive the popularity of the early generation of color television. Appropriately, this is used to make special phosphorus on Euro banknotes that prevent counterfeiting.
Gadolinium or Gd (64)
Gadolinium has special properties that make it very suitable for important functions, such as protecting nuclear reactors and neutron radiographs. This can target tumors in neuron therapy and can improve magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), help in the treatment and diagnosis of cancer. X-rays and bone density tests can also use gadolinium, making this rare earth element a major contributor to modern health care solutions.
Terbium or Tb (65)
This silvery rare earth metal is so soft that it can be cut with a knife. Terbium is often used in compact fluorescent lighting, color display, and in addition to permanent rare earth magnets to enable them to function better under higher temperatures. This can be found in fuel cells designed to operate at high temperatures, in some electronic devices and in naval sonar systems. Found in 1843, terbium in the form of an alloy has the highest magnetic resistance of any such substance, which means it changes shape due to more magnetization than other alloys. This property makes the vital component Terphenol-D available, which has many important uses in defense and commercial technology.
Disprosium or Dy (66)
Soft metals, silver, other disprosium have one of the highest magnetic strengths of these elements, only compatible with holmium. Dysprosium is often added to rare earth permanent magnets to help them operate more efficiently at higher temperatures. Commercial lasers and lighting can use disprosium, which can also be used to make hard and other electronic computer disks that require certain magnetic properties. Disprosium can also be used in nuclear reactors and modern vehicles that are energy efficient.
Holmium or Ho (67)
Holmium was discovered in 1878 and named for the city of Stockholm. Along with Dysprosium, Holmium has extraordinary magnetic properties. In fact, some of the strongest artificial magnetic fields are the result of magnetic flux concentrators made with holmium alloys. In addition to providing staining on cubic zirconia and glass, holmium can be used in nuclear control rods and microwave devices.
Erbium or Er (68)
Other Rare Earth with nuclear applications, erbium can be found in neutron absorbent control rods. This is a key component of a high-performance fiber optic communication system, and can also be used to give glass and other materials pink color, which has aesthetic and industrial purposes. Erbium can also help make lasers, including some that are used for medical purposes.
Thulium or Tm (69)
Silvery gray metal, thulium is one of the rarest rare earths. The isotope is widely used as a portable X-ray radiation device, making thulium a very useful ingredient. Thulium is also a component of a highly efficient laser with various uses in defense, medicine and meteorology.
Ytterbium or Yb (70)
This element, named for a village in Sweden associated with its discovery, has several important uses in health care, including in certain cancer treatments. Ytterbium can also increase stainless steel and is used to monitor the effects of earthquakes and explosions on the ground.
Lutetium or Lu (71)
The last rare earth element (according to its atomic number) has several interesting uses. For example, the lutetium isotope can help reveal the age of ancient objects, such as meteorites. It also has applications related to petroleum refining and positron emission tomography. Experimentally, the lutetium isotope has been used to target certain types of tumors.
Collectively, soil elements rarely contribute to the vital technology we rely on today for safety, health and comfort. All soil elements rarely contribute to the advancement of modern technology and promising discoveries have not yet come.