Periodic Table -> Samarium


Samarium Details

Samarium Symbol: Sm

Samarium Atomic Number: 62

Samarium Atomic Weight: 150.35

What is Samarium?

Samarium is a rare metal that is silvery in color and ignites at a temperature of 150 C. It belongs to the group of the lanthanoids and was first discovered by the French chemist Paul de Boisbaudran. However, the French chemist Marignac was the first to observe traces of samarium in 1853.

This element is a soft metal with moderate paramagnetic properties. It is stable in air and solid at room temperature. Its Van Der Waals radius and ionic radius are unknown. Stable in dry air, oxide coating forms at higher humidity levels. When it oxidizes, it forms powder in gray-yellow that consists of hydroxides and oxides. The best way to store the metal is under argon or another inert gas. There are 21 known isotopes and samarium forms different compounds, including borides, halides, chalcogenides, and oxides. The element also has nuclear isomers and radioisotopes and stable isotopes such as Sm-154, Sm-152, Sm-150, Sm-144, and others. Some isotopes have a half life of 340 days while others, for example, Sm-153 have a half life of just 1.92 days.

Sources, Ores, and Applications
The metal is present in different minerals, including monazite, samarskite, and gadolinite. It is also found in cerite, bastanite, monazite, and other minerals (usually it is found in monazite). Ores that contain samarium are found in countries such as Sri Lanka, Australia, India, Brazil, China, and the United States. Many mining sites are found on the territory of the People’s Republic of China. Different techniques are used for processing, isolation, and extraction, including electrochemical disposition, solvent extraction, and ion exchange. Heavy extraction processes are usually used at mining sites. In terms of industrial and commercial applications, samarium is used in nuclear reactors and optical lasers. The metal is also used as a reducing agent for different types of reactions, including the Barbier reaction, Holton Taxol total syntheses, Danishefsky, desulfonylation reactions, and others. One gram of samarium costs about $3.60.

The element is also used in the ceramics and electronics industries, to produce catalysts and special types of glasses, and in TV screens. It has applications in radiography, interferometry, high-resolution microscopy, holography, and many other fields. Some of the isotopes are also used for meteorite and rock dating. Finally, samarium is also used in headphones, alloys with cobalt, lasers, organic reagents, and carbon-arc lightning. Samarium-cobalt magnets were used in the 70s to reduce the size of many items – speakers, boom boxes, PC disk drives, cassette tape players, etc. While these magnets are expensive, they are strong and have many applications. One reason why they are preferred over other magnets is that they can be used in high temperature settings. Because of this, they are widely used in hybrid electric vehicles. Magnets also have application in industries where low energy consumption is an important factor. Samarium-cobalt magnets have good spectral absorption properties and are also added to applications that use microwave frequencies.

Samarium is also used for therapeutic purposes. Some cancer treatments use the radioisotope samarium-153 to alleviate severe pain due to metastasis. The metal is also used to produce flints in combination with neodymium, cerium, and lanthanum. Ethanol is dehydrated with the use of samarium, which serves as a catalyst.

Effects on Health and the Environment
According to researchers, samarium speeds up metabolism. In the human body, the metal is found in the bloodstream, kidneys, and liver. Exposure may cause eye and skin irritation because the salts and compounds are found to be moderately to highly toxic. The metal has been found in some plants and animals as well.

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