Rare earths roster
Here's a closer look at some of the ways each rare earth element is used:
Added to mercury vapor lamps to make their light look more likesunlight. Also used in certaintypes of athletic equipment — including aluminumbaseball bats, bicycle frames and lacrosse sticks — as well as fuel cells.
Produces color in many TV picture tubes. Also conducts microwaves andacoustic energy, simulates diamond gemstones, and strengthens ceramics, glass,aluminum alloys and magnesium alloys, among other uses.
One of several rare earths used to make carbon arc lamps, which thefilm and TV industry use for studio and projector lights. Also found in batteries,cigarette-lighter flints and specialized types of glass, like camera lenses.
The most widespread of all rare earth metals. Used in catalytic convertersand diesel fuels to reduce vehicles' carbon monoxide emissions. Also used in carbonarc lights, lighter flints, glass polishers and self-cleaning ovens.
Primarily used as an alloying agent with magnesium to makehigh-strength metals for aircraft engines. Also may be used as a signal amplifier infiber-optic cables, and to create the hard glass of welder's goggles.
Mainly used to make powerful neodymium magnets for computerhard disks, wind turbines, hybrid cars, earbud headphones and microphones. Alsoused to color glass and to make lighter flints and welder's goggles.
Does not occur naturally on Earth; must be artificially produced viauranium fission. Added to some kinds of luminous paint and nuclear-poweredmicrobatteries, with potential use in portable X-ray devices.
Mixed with cobalt to create a permanent magnet with the highestdemagnetization resistance of any known material. Crucial for building "smart"missiles; also used in carbon arc lamps, lighter flints and some types of glass.
The most reactive of all rare earth metals. Used for decades as a redphosphor in TV sets — and more recently in computer monitors, fluorescent lampsand some types of lasers — but otherwise has few commercial applications.
Used in some control rods at nuclear power plants. Also used inmedical applications such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and industrially toimprove the workability of iron, chromium and various other metals.