From laptops to smartphones, the key to mobility is reducing the size and weight of mobile devices while maintaining the highest level of functionality and computing performance. Advanced technology designers, engineers, and manufacturers could not achieve these goals without the use of rare earths.
Neodymium’s unique magnetic power is put to use in the speakers of mobile devices, because it helps reduce the speaker’s size but allows it to maintain the strength and quality of its sound. For mobile devices like cell phones and tablet computers, this is absolutely essential and a key aspect of what allows them to stay thin and light. Just a small amount of neodymium – a fraction of a gram in most cases – can enable a tiny cell phone speaker to kick out a lot of sound. Neodymium magnets also enable our devices to vibrate when they’re in silent mode. If these devices used another type of magnet for these functions, they would have to be significantly larger to accommodate the size of the magnet needed to create a comparable result.
Europium, terbium, and yttrium rare earth phosphors, are used in the liquid crystal display (LCD) screens in mobile devices and allow them to display color. Without them, we would likely be stuck with phones and laptops that only displayed monochrome text and black and white pictures.
As manufacturers continue to further shrink the size of mobile devices and improve the color and clarity of their displays, it is virtually certain that rare earths will continue to play a key role. Given the enormous growth in demand for mobile devices worldwide, the demand for these materials is growing with it.