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(ISSN 1933–9631) is a publication o AldrichChemical Co., Inc. Aldrich is a member o the Sigma-AldrichGroup. © 2011 Sigma-Aldrich Co.
Vol. 6, No. 2
Nathan Henderson, Ph.D.Aldrich Materials ScienceSigma-Aldrich Corporation
Welcome to the second issue of
RareEarths—Crucial Elements of Advanced Technologies
. This issue highlightsthe Rare Earth Elements (REE), which are essential components of modern technology and find use in numerous applications such asdata storage devices, lasers, phosphors for advanced displays, catalysts,permanent magnets, and petroleum refining.
Rare Earth Elementshave contributed to the digital revolution and have enabled a varietyof emerging technologies, including hybrid electric vehicles andminiaturized devices and electronics. The Rare Earth Elements are comprised of the fifteen members of thelanthanide series (lanthanum through lutetium) and yttrium. Due tosimilarities in chemical behavior and mineralogical occurrence, scandium is also usuallyincluded in this classification. It should be noted that the term “Rare Earth” is somewhatmisleading, as these elements are not really scarce in the context of crustal abundance,especially when compared to precious metals such as gold and platinum.
The extractionof REEs, however, is hardly a trivial matter: these elements are rarely observed in highlyconcentrated, minable deposits. Furthermore, REEs are commonly found together—thus theterm “fraternal fifteen” (lanthanide elements)—in rock-forming minerals, which necessitatesquite sophisticated processes for separations.
Sigma-Aldrich® has a long history of expertise in REE processing and offers a range of different grade materials to serve a variety of customers. In 1996, Sigma-Aldrich wasidentified by the U.S. Geological Survey as a key producer of high-purity scandium metal,oxide, and fluoride.
In the following years, however, in-house processing of REE oxides andmetals has been reduced due to the broad availability of very inexpensive materials frominternational markets. We have recently resumed our operations to meet rising demand forREEs, which is expected to grow continuously through the next several years.
The current issue of
begins with an article by Karl Gschneidner, Jr. (AmesLaboratory, U.S. Department of Energy), who discusses the historical production of REEmaterials and their current shortage in the global market. In the following article, Julia Chan(Louisiana State University) describes highly correlated lanthanide intermetallics, providingan overview of material properties and a brief analysis of the molten metal flux techniqueused for single crystal growth. Finally, Dhanesh Chandra (University of Nevada, Reno) reviewsREE-based battery materials, highlighting structures and properties of hydride-formingmetal alloys as well as the role of lanthanide substitutions in optimizing their performance innickel-metal hydride electrodes.Each article in this issue is accompanied by a list of relevant materials available from Aldrich®Materials Science. This issue also includes a comprehensive list of REE products suitablefor electronics and energy-related research. For additional product information, visit us at
. We welcome your comments, questions, new product suggestions,and custom requests (
(1) Kane, T.J. and Byer, R.L
, 65.(2) Ronda, C.R.; Jüstel, T.; Nikol, J.
J. Alloys Compd.
, 669.(3) Voorhoeve, R.J.H.; Remeika, J.P.; Freeland, P.E.; Matthias, B.T.
, 353.(4) Sagawa, M.; Fujimura, S.; Togawa, N.; Yamamoto, H.; Matsuura, Y.
J. Appl. Phys.
, 2083.(5) Kitto, M.E.; Anderson, D.L.; Gordon, G.E.; Olmex, I
Environ. Sci. Technol.
, 1368.(6) Suess, H.E. and Urey, H.C.
Rev. Mod. Phys.
, 53.(7) Castor, S.B. and Hedrick, J.B. in
Industrial minerals & rocks-Commodities, markets, and uses
ed.; SME: Littleton, Colo-rado, p 769.
(8) Hedrick, J.B.
U.S. Geological Survey Minerals Information
(9) Humphries, M.
Rare Earth Elements: The Global Supply Chain
About Our Cover
Rare earth materials have been a driving force behind the digital revolution and are keycomponents in a variety of modern electronic devices. Two examples of this are thedysprosium- and neodymium-containing magnets found in hybrid electric vehicles andneodymium- and yttrium-based materials used in lasing applications. The central motif of evolving gears represents the progression of technology fueled by the development of advanced materials.