Europium: 10 Things You Should Know About This Chemical Element

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  • Author Dom Einhorn
  • Published November 26, 2011
  • Word count 494

Europium: 10 Things You Should Know About This Chemical Element

Europium is a shiny silvery-white metal that is identified on the periodic table by the Eu symbol and is represented by the atomic number of 63. The name of this element leaves little to question; it is absolutely named after the massive continent of Europe. This phosphorescent metal has a variety of interesting facts associated with it, but we’ll try to keep it short by providing you with ten brief, but fascinating points that we think you should know about europium.

  1. Although europium’s amazing phosphorescent spectra was noted by William Crookes in the late 1800s, the element itself was not yet determined to be an isolated one. Paul Emile Lecoq deBoisbaudran discovered europium in 1890. He was able to determine that the spectral lines found in fractions of samarium-gadolinium were not able to be accounted for in either of these elements.

  2. Even more surprisingly, europium’s discovery is more commonly credited to Eugene-Anatole Demarcay, a French chemist who successfully isolated europium from samarium in 1901. This is also the man responsible for the name of this element.

  3. Europium caused quite a commotion in the early part of the 1960’s due to the element’s use in the then brand new color television. In fact, manufacturers were scrambling to obtain portions of the very limited europium supply to create the red phosphor, yttrium orthovanadate.

  4. Although europium isn’t found naturally in free element form, it can be found contained in bastnasite, loparite, monazite and xenotime. It is currently largely mined in China, but was previously mined in California as well.

  5. Although europium is the result of nuclear fission, the yields of this element’s isotopes tend to come in very low to the top range for nuclear fission products.

  6. Europium metal is as hard as lead and ductile. Many of europium’s properties are influenced by its electron shell, which is half filled. For instance, of all the lanthanides, europium is the lowest in terms of density and second lowest in terms of melting point.

  7. When it is cooled to 1.8 K or below and then compressed to 80 GPa or higher, this element will become a superconductor. You see, in its metallic state, this element is divalent, but it converts to its trivalent state with applied pressure.

  8. Of all Mining Investors , europium wins for most reactive. In fact, it oxidizes so rapidly in the air that a sample the size of a pencil eraser can oxidize in several days. With water, europium reacts similarly to calcium.

  9. One bizarre behavior exhibited by this element is that europium is usually trivalent, but will form divalent compounds readily.

  10. Europium is frequently used as a dopant for glass, a variety of optoelectronic devices and lasers. However, europium is widely exploited for its phosphorescence, which is used to produce the "white" light found in helical fluorescent bulbs and fluorescent glass. Its phosphorescence is also used to produce trichromatic systems for televisions and monitors.

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Out of all Rare Earth Elements europium wins for most reactive.

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