Europium is a chemical element in the Periodic Table marked with the atomic number of 63 and with the chemical symbol Eu. This chemical element belongs to period 6 elements and the Lanthanide category. Similar to the rest of the Lanthanide elements Europium possesses some metallic properties. In the Periodic Table Europium is preceded by Samarium and is followed by Gadolinium.
Europium is a relatively hard metallic Lanthanide element, which is non-toxic and does not play any known biological roles to living organisms on Earth. Compared to the rest of the chemical elements in the periodic table this particular Lanthanide is one of the least abundant elements in the entire Universe. Its ductility and low density are quite valuable. It is highly reactive to other metals and oxidizes readily when exposed to Oxygen and water. Europium’s various compounds have strong phosphorescence, which is the subject of most of this element’s commercial applications. Europium is a product of nuclear fission and traces of Europium are present in other minerals containing Lanthanides and Rare Earth elements.
Physical Characteristics of Europium
In terms of physical characteristics Europium appears as a solid metal with low density. It has a silvery-white metallic finish, which gets tarnished when Europium is exposed to oxidation. While its melting and boiling points are quite high compared to other chemicals in the Periodic Table, Europium actually has the second lowest melting point among all Lanthanides. It also has the lowest density compared to the rest of the Lanthanide elements. Europium crystalizes in a body-centered cubic state. When dissolved in a sulfuric acid Europium forms solutions in pale pink hues.
Chemical Properties of Europium
Atomic Number – 63
Group – n/a
Period – 6
Block – f
Electronic Configuration – 4f7 6s2
Relative Atomic Mass – 151.964 (151.9641 g/mol)
Molecular Weight – 151.964
Electronegativity – 1.2
Density (G CM-3) – 5.264 g/cm3 at room temperature; 5.13 g/cm3 in liquid state
Melting Point – 1099 K; 826 °C; 1519 °F
Boiling Point – 1802 K; 1529 °C; 2784 °F
Atomic Radius – 180 pm
Isotopes – 2
Electronic Shell – 2, 8, 18, 25, 8, 2
Discovery of Europium
A French chemist, named Paul-Émile Lecoq de Boisbaudran, recognized a new element in Samarium-Gadolinium concentrates in 1890. The new element had specific spectral lines different from the ones emitted by Samarium and Gadolinium. However, the actual discovery of the chemical element was done by another French chemist, named Eugène-Anatole Demarçay, who fully isolated it in 1901. Eugène-Anatole Demarçay was the one, who proposed the name Europium for this newly discovered element.
Recognized by: Paul-Émile Lecoq de Boisbaudran (1890)
Known and discovered by: Eugène-Anatole Demarçay (1901)
Named by: Eugène-Anatole Demarçay (1901)
Uses and role of Europium
Europium does not have any known biological roles for humans and other living organisms on our planet. However, it does have several scientific and commercial uses, which are mainly focused on this Lanthanide element’s phosphorescence in its +2 and +3 oxidation states.
For example, Europium is used as a dopant in the glass manufacturing industry. It has various uses in optoelectronics for glasses, lasers, TV screens, computer screens, and fluorescent glass. This chemical element plays a key role as a red phosphor in fluorescent lamps and TV sets. An outdated application of Europium is the manufacturing of superconducting magnets. One of its most ground-breaking uses is in the manufacturing of anti-counterfeiting phosphors for Euro banknotes.
Europium on Earth
As one of the rarest chemical elements on Earth, Europium is also among the most expensive Lanthanides of all. It does not occur freely in its natural state and can be produced through a nuclear fission. Europium can be found on Earth in various minerals like monazite, xenotime, loparite and bastnasite in combination with other Lanthanide and Rare Earth elements. Divalent Europium can be found in the mineral fluorite.
Some of the most recent discoveries claim that Europium could play key roles in nuclear science, as well as in quantum computing. Due to the fact that this particular chemical element’s isotopes are relatively good neutron absorbers, Europium could have significant nuclear control applications in the future. Another ground-breaking discovery claims that Europium can be used in quantum memory chips, which have the ability to store sensitive quantum data on hard drives for days at a time.