Neodymium

At A Glance: Nd

Atomic Number: 60
Atomic Symbol: Nd
Atomic Weight: 144.24
Electron Configuration: [Xe]6s24f4
Atomic Radius: 229 pm (Van der Waals)
Melting Point: 1021 °C
Boiling Point: 3074 °C
Oxidation States: 3
Sources: It is present in significant quantities in the ore minerals monazite and bastnäsite.
Uses:
High powered neodymium-iron-boron permanent magnets used in smartphones, computer hard drives, audio speakers, and many other consumer electronics, hybrid and electric vehicle motors, wind turbine generators, MRI machines, and defense equipment; also used in lasers and glass production.

Content provided by Los Alamos National Laboratory. Used with permission.

Rare earth element - Neodymium
Rare earth element - Neodymium
Neodymium Spin Video

Photos of rare earth elements used on our site are copyright of Max Whitby and Theodore Gray. Used with permission.

Your cell phone, portable CD player, computer or sound system would not exist in their current form without the use of strong permanent magnets made possible by Neodymium. Today, more and more electronics applications realize the benefits of Neodymium-Iron-Boron (NdFeB) permanent magnets that allow for the miniaturization of a variety of technologies. These permanent magnets, which maximize the power/cost ratio, are used in a large variety of motors and mechanical systems. Cellular phones contain both Neodymium magnets and capacitor, which produce powerful electronic generation and boost the power of these communication devices.

At the heart of anti-lock brakes (ABS), air bags and many other systems dependent on electric motors in the modern vehicle are small powerful permanent magnets based on Neodymium. Modern, anti-glare automobile light glass and mirrors also utilize Neodymium.

Neodymium oxide can be added to CRT glass to enhance picture brightness by absorbing yellow light waves. Neodymium has a strong absorption band centered at 580-nm wavelength which helps clarify the human eye’s discrimination between reds and greens. The oxide of Neodymium has a sky-blue color and is used in the production of various coloring pigments for products such as ceramic tile and artistic glass. Neodymium compounds help to stabilize electrical properties in ceramic capacitors.

Many solid state lasers use Neodymium because it has an optimal selection of absorption and emitting wavelengths. Neodymium lasers are used in material processing, drilling, spot welding/marking and medicine, where the Neodymium light laser is the instrument of choice for non-evasive surgical procedures because of the easily seen high intensity blue focal point light. The non-ionic radiation MRI (magnetic resonance imaging procedure) uses magnetic wave generation that is solely dependent on the Neodymium magnet.

History

From the Greek word neos meaning new, and didymos, twin. In 1841, Mosander, extracted a rose-colored oxide from cerite , which he believed contained a new element. He named the element didymium, as it was an inseparable twin brother of lanthanum. In 1885 von Welsbach separated didymium into two new elemental components, neodymia and praseodymia, by repeated fractionation of ammonium didymium nitrate. While the free metal is in misch metal, long known and used as a pyrophoric alloy for light flints, the element was not isolated in relatively pure form until 1925. Neodymium is present in misch metal to the extent of about 18%. It is present in the minerals monazite and bastnasite, which are principal sources of rare-earth metals.

Production

The element may be obtained by separating neodymium salts from other rare earths by ion-exchange or solvent extraction techniques, and by reducing anhydrous halides such as NdF3 with calcium metal. Other separation techniques are possible.

Properties

The metal has a bright silvery metallic luster, Neodymium is one of the more reactive rare-earth metals and quickly tarnishes in air, forming an oxide that spalls off and exposes metal to oxidation. The metal, therefore, should be kept under light mineral oil or sealed in a plastic material. Neodymium exists in two allotropic forms, with a transformation from a double hexagonal to a body-centered cubic structure taking place at 863°C.

Isotopes

Natural neodymium is a mixture of seven stable isotopes. Fourteen other radioactive isotopes are recognized.

Handling

Neodymium has a low-to-moderate acute toxic rating. As with other rare earths, neodymium should be handled with care.

Source: Los Alamos National Laboratory; Molycorp

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