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Ezekiel Myers
Ezekiel Myers

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The rare earth elements (REEs) are a group of seventeen chemical elements on the periodic table: scandium, yttrium, lanthanum, cerium, praseodymium, neodymium, promethium, samarium, europium, gadolinium, terbium, dysprosium, holmium, erbium, thulium, ytterbium, and lutetium. The rare earths exhibit unique chemical properties that make them highly valued in a wide variety of applications. Despite their name, with the exception of Promethium, which has no stable isotopes, the rare earths are not scarce on earth in absolute terms. Their name is derived from the rarity of the minerals in which they found in high enough concentration to be economically extracted.




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For most of the years since their earliest discovery in the late eighteenth century, the existence of a few small mines exploiting these rare deposits was sufficient to meet global demand for these elements at any given time. In the last two decades, most of the already scarce REE mines around the world ceased operation in response to low cost rare earth exports from China. However, as rare earth products are becoming increasingly critical raw materials for large sectors of the world economy, it has become clear that counting on the supply of this essential resource by a single nation carries significant risks. Today this recognition has spurred renewed interest in discovery and development of rare earth sources in outside of China.


A carbonate-floride mineral that always contains rare earth elements. The generalized formula for this mineral is (Ce,La,Y)CO3F, but it can be more accurately described as three subtypes of minerals: bastnäsite-(Ce), bastnäsite-(La), and bastnäsite-(Y), which have greater proportions of cerium, lanthanum, and yttrium respectively. Most naturally-occurring bastnäsite is bastnäsite-(Ce). Praseodymium typically accounts for 5% of the mineral's element composition. Bastnäsite is a major source of the light rare earth elements, and most known major deposits are in the United States and China.


A phosphate mineral that always contains rare earth metals. It has the generalized formula (Ce,La)PO4, but like bastnäsite, it is found in several forms, each named for its most abundant rare earth constituent: monazite-(Ce) , monazite-(La), monazite-(Nd) , and monazite-(Sm). Each of these minerals contains its named rare earth element in addition to several others in smaller proportions. Monazite-(Ce) is by far the most common, and has the formula (Ce,La,Nd,Th)(PO4). Monazite is a major source of the light rare earth elements and thorium. Due to the presence of thorium and small amounts of uranium, monazite is typically radioactive.


A phosphate mineral whose major component is yttrium orthophosphate (YPO4). It may contain dysprosium, erbium, terbium, thorium, ytterbium,and uranium as secondary components, and as such is a significant source of the heavy rare earth elements.


These deposits contain all of the rare earth elements in varying proportions, and can be processed to concentrate these elements with much greater ease than other types of rare earth minerals. This relative ease of processing is key to the value of these clays, as their percentage composition of REEs is low compared to the rare earth minerals discussed above. Deposits of these clays in southern China are important sources for REEs.


Cerium is the most abundant of the rare earths. It is characterized chemically by having two valence states , the +3 cerous and +4 ceric states. The ceric state is the only non-trivalent rare earth ion stable in aqueous solutions, making it strongly acidic and moderately toxic, as well as a strong oxidizer.The cerous state closely resembles the other trivalent rare earths. The numerous commercial applications for cerium include metallurgy, glass and glass polishing, ceramics, catalysts, and in phosphors. In steel manufacturing it is used to remove free oxygen and sulfur by forming stable oxysulfides and by tying up undesirable trace elements such as lead and antimony. It is considered to be the most efficient glass polishing agent for precision optical polishing. It is also used to decolor glass by keeping iron in its ferrous state. The ability of cerium-doped glass to block out ultra violet light is utilized in the manufacturing of medical glassware and aerospace windows; it is also used to prevent polymers from darkening in sunlight and to suppress discoloration of television glass. It is applied to optical components to improve performance. Cerium is used in a variety of ceramics iincluding dental compositions and as a phase stabilizer in zirconia-based products. Ceria plays several catalytic roles: in catalytic converters, it acts as a stabilizer for the high surface area alumina, as a promoter of the water-gas shift reaction, as an oxygen storage component and as an enhancer of the NOX reduction capability of rhodium. Cerium is added to the dominant catalyst for the production of styrene from ethylbenezene to improve styrene formation. It is used in FCC catalysts containing zeolites to provide both catalytic reactivity in the reactor and thermal stability in the regenerator. American Elements produces cerium as metal and compounds with purities from 99% to 99.999% (ACS grade to ultra high purity); metals in the form of foil, sputtering target, and rod, and compounds as submicron and nanopowder.


Dysprosium is most commonly used in neodymium-iron-boron high strength permanent magnets. While it has one of the highest magnetic moments of any of the rare earths (10.6µB), this has not resulted in an ability to perform on its own as a practical alternative to neodymium compositions. It is however now an essential additive in NdFeB production. It is also used in special ceramic compositions based on barium titanate (BaTiO) formulations. Recent research has examined the use of dysprosium in dysprosium-iron-garnet (DyIG) and silicon implanted with dysprosium and holmium to form donor centers. Dysprosium is added to various advanced optical formulations due to the fact that it emits in the 470-500 and 570-600 nm wavelengths. Dysprosium is available as metal and compounds with purities from 99% to 99.999% (ACS grade to ultra-high purity); metals in the form of foil, sputtering target, and rod, and compounds as submicron and nanopowder.


Erbium has application in glass coloring, as an amplifier in fiber optics, and in lasers for medical and dental use. The ion has a very narrow absorption band, coloring erbium salts pink; iIt is therefore used in eyeware and decorative glassware. It can neutralize discoloring impurities such as ferric ions and produce a neutral gray shade and s used in a variety of glass products for this purpose. It is particularly useful as an amplifier for fiber optic data transfer as it lases at the wavelength required to provide an efficient optical method of amplification, 1.55 microns. Lasers based on Er:YAG are ideally suited for surgical applications because of its ability to deliver energy without thermal build-up in tissue. Erbium is available as metal and compounds with purities from 99% to 99.999% (ACS grade to ultra-high purity); metals in the form of foil, sputtering target, and rod, and compounds as submicron and nanopowder.


Europium is utilized primarily for its unique luminescent behavior. Excitation of the europium atom by absorption of ultra violet radiation can result in specific energy level transitions within the atom, creating an emission of visible radiation .In energy efficient fluorescent lighting, europium oxide provides not only the necessary red but also the blue. Several commercial blue phosphors are based on europium. Its luminesence is also valuable in medical, surgical and biochemical applications. Europium is available as metal and compounds with purities from 99% to 99.999% (ACS grade to ultra-high purity); metals in the form of foil, sputtering target, and rod, and componds as submicron and nanopowder.


Gadolinium is utilized for both its high magnetic moment (7.94µB) and as a phosphor and scintillator material. When complexed with EDTA ligands, it is used as an injectable contrast agent for patients undergoing magnetic resonance imaging. With its high magnetic moment, gadolinium can reduce relaxation times and thereby enhance signal intensity. The extra stable half-full 4f electron shell with no low lying energy levels creates applications as an inert phosphor host. Gadolinium can therefore act as hosts for x-ray cassettes and in scintillator materials for computer tomography. Gadolinium is available as metal and compounds with purities from 99% to 99.999% (ACS grade to ultra-high purity); metals in the form of foil, sputtering target, and rod, and compounds as submicron and nanopowder.


Holmium has the highest magnetic moment (10.6µB) of any naturally occurring element. Because of this it has been used to create the highest known magnetic fields by placing it within high strength magnets as a pole piece or magnetic flux concentrator. This magnetic property also has value in yttrium-iron-garnet (YIG) lasers for microwave equipment. Holmium lases at a human eye safe 2.08 microns ,allowing its use in a variety of medical and dental applications in both yttrium-aluminum-garnet (YAG) and yttrium-lithium-fluoride (YLF) solid state lasers. The wavelength allows for use in silica fibers designed for shorter wavelengths while still providing the cutting strength of longer wave length equipment. Holmium is available as metal and compounds with purities from 99% to 99.999% (ACS grade to ultra-high purity); metals in the form of foil, sputtering target, and rod, and compounds as submicron and nanopowder.


Lanthanum is the first element in the rare earth or lanthanide series. It is the model for all the other trivalent rare earths. After cerium, it is the second most abundant of the rare earths. Lanthanum-rich lanthanide compositions have been used extensively for cracking reactions in FCC catalysts, especially to manufacture low-octane fuel for heavy crude oil. Lantahanum is found in monazite and bastnasite. The name Lanthanum originates from the Greek word Lanthaneia which means 'To lie hidden'. It is utilized in green phosphors based on the aluminate (La0.4Ce0.45Tb0.15)PO4. Lanthanide zirconates and lanthanum strontium manganites are used for their catalytic and conductivity properties and lanthanum stabilized zirconia has useful electrical and mechanical properties. Lanthanum's ability to bind with phosphates in water creates numerous uses in water treatment. It is utilized in laser crystals based on the yttrium-lanthanum-fluoride (YLF) composition. Lanthanum is available as metal and compounds with purities from 99% to 99.999% (ACS grade to ultra-high purity); metals in the form of foil, sputtering target, and rod, and compounds as submicron and nanopowder. 041b061a72


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