Periodic Table -> Europium


Europium Details

Europium Symbol: Eu

Europium Atomic Number: 63

Europium Atomic Weight: 151.25

What is Europium?

The chemical element Europium, obviously named after the continent, has atomic number 63 the symbol Eu. It oxidizes easily in air and water and is part of the lanthanide series, also known as rare earth elements. Eu is found in oxidation states +3 and +2. Notwithstanding the fact that Eu is a heavy metal, it is comparatively non-toxic. From a practical viewpoint, it is most useful as a phosphorescent europium compound.

This element was discovered in 1896 by the French chemist Eugene-Antole Demarcay. He noticed that samples of samarium, which was recently discovered, were contaminated with some unknown chemical. Demarcay was unable to produce pure europium. Nowadays, the element is mostly produced from monazite sand via an ion exchange process. It does not have a significant biological role.

Europia or europium oxide is commonly employed as a doping agent in computer monitors and television sets. Blue radiance is produced by valency two europium and red radiance by valency three europium. The combination of both valencies produces white light, which is used in fluorescent bulbs. Phosphors containing europium are used in anti-forgery marks on EURO banknotes. The element is also used in geochemistry and petrology to understand the processes behind the formation of rocks, which have cooled from magma or lava.

Europium is a ductile metal, which means that it is malleable and easily shaped. Of all the rare earth elements, Eu has the lowest density and the second lowest melting point. Below 1.8 K (Kelvin temperature), the element is a superconductor because it becomes trivalent under pressure, and it must be compressed to over 80 GPa to achieve this state. This element also has the highest reactivity rate of all rare earth elements. It quickly oxidizes in air and also reacts with water. Europium forms europium (III) oxide and dissolves in dilute sulfuric acid to form hydrated Eu (III).

Eu has two isotopes - 151Eu and 153Eu. The latter is by far the more abundant of the two. It is also more stable than the former. The isotopes of europium are good absorbers of neutrons and are used in control rods in nuclear reactors.

The element also has 35 artificial radioisotopes, and the two mentioned above are the natural ones. Of these, the most stable is 150Eu with a half-life of 36.9 years. Europium has 8 meta states, the most stable being 150mEu with a half-life of 12.8 hours.

Europium is a by-product of nuclear fission. It is less radioactive than caesium and strontium. A large number of naturally occurring minerals contain europium. It is most frequently found in bastnasite, monazite, xenotime and loparite and does not occur in a pure form in nature. Several methods have been used for its extraction from ore, and the choice of method is determined by the ore composition, concentration, and the distribution of the separate lanthanides.

Europium metal reacts with all of the halogens. This yields gray europium (III) bromide (EuBr3), yellow europium (III) chloride, white europium (III) fluoride (EuF3), and colorless europium (III) iodide. It also yields a large number of dihalides. Among the known oxides of europium are europium (II) oxide and the mixed oxide.

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