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  • Rare earth metals – historical reference

    Rare earth metals – a group of 17 elements, including scandium, yttrium, lanthanum and lanthanides (cerium, praseodymium, neodymium, promethium, samarium, europium, gadolinium, terbium, dysprosium, holmium, erbium, thulium, ytterbium, lutetium)

    Rare-earth elements show a great similarity between chemical and some physical properties, which is explained by the almost identical structure of the external electronic levels of their atoms. All of them are silvery-white metals, while all have similar chemical properties (the most characteristic oxidation state is +3). Rare-earth elements are metals, they are obtained by reduction of the corresponding oxides, fluorides, anhydrous salts electrolysis and other methods.

    In 1794, the Finnish chemist Juhan Gadolin, researching ore samples near the Swedish town of Ytterby (in the future rare earth elements yttrium (Y), terbium (Tb), erbium (Er) and ytterbium (Yb) were named after this village), discovered the of that “rare earth”, which I called yttrium at the place of find.

    Later, the German chemist Martin Klaproth divided these samples into two “lands”, for one of which he left the name yttrium, and the other called cerium (in honor of the small planet Ceres discovered in 1801).

    A little later, the Swedish scientist K. Mosander managed to isolate from the same sample several more “lands”. All of them turned out to be oxides of new elements, which were called rare-earth ones. Together by 1907, chemists discovered and identified a total of 16 such elements.

    Statistics and analytics for rare earth metals


    Symbol Element name Name origin
    Sc Scandium in honor of Scandinavia
    Y Yttrium in honor of the Swedish village Ytterby
    La Lanthanum from. Greek “secretive”
    Ce Cerium in honor of the small planet Ceres
    Pr Praseodymium from the Greek “Green twin”, because of the green line in the spectrum
    Nd Neodymium from the Greek “New twin”
    Pm Promethium on behalf of the mythical hero Prometheus, who stole fire from Zeus and passed it on to people.
    Sm Samarium by the name of the mineral Samarskite, which was discovered
    Eu Europium in honor of Europe
    Gd Gadolinium in honor of Juhan Gadolin
    Tb Terbium in honor of the Swedish village Ytterby
    Dy Dysprosium from the Greek “Hard to reach”
    Ho Holmium in honor of Stockholm
    Er Erbium in honor of the Swedish village Ytterby
    Tm Thulium from the old name of Scandinavia
    Yb Ytterbium in honor of the Swedish village Ytterby
    Lu Lutetium from the ancient Roman name of Paris

    Here you can find a list of rare earth metals offered by our company.

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