Neodymium is a chemical element in the Periodic Table marked with the atomic number of 60 and with the chemical symbol Nd. This chemical element belongs to period 6 elements and the Lanthanide category. Similar to the rest of the Lanthanide elements Neodymium possesses metallic properties. In the Periodic Table Neodymium is preceded by Praseodymium and is followed by Promethium.
This particular element is relatively common, even though it does not occur freely in its natural metallic form on Earth. It appears as a soft metal with silvery-white hues in terms of color and its compounds usually have a purple to reddish color. Neodymium shares physical and chemical similarities with the rest of the Lanthanide chemical elements in the Periodic Table and it has various commercial applications. It forms mildly basic oxides with oxidation states of +2, +3 and +4. It is quite electropositive and relatively reactive. In terms of toxicity Neodymium is moderately toxic to the eyes, the liver, and other types of mucous membranes in living organism. Due to the fact that it is highly combustible, this chemical element is considered as an explosion hazard and should be handled with caution.
Physical Characteristics of Neodymium
In terms of physical characteristics Neodymium shares similarities with other chemical elements in the Lanthanide category. Neodymium appears as a silvery-white metallic element, which is relatively soft. Its metallic surface gets easily tarnished when exposed to Oxygen. It oxidizes rapidly and occurs in a typical double hexagonal close-packed crystal structure. Although Neodymium is silver-white in color, most of its compounds have reddish to purple hues and some of them show various colors based on light exposure. This chemical element occurs in a solid state, but it dissolves easily in acids and reacts vigorously with hot water. Neodymium’s melting and boiling points are notably high.
Chemical Properties of Neodymium
Atomic Number – 60
Group – n/a
Period – 6
Block – f
Electronic Configuration – 4f4 6s2
Relative Atomic Mass – 144.242 (144.242 g/mol)
Molecular Weight – 144.242
Electronegativity – 1.14
Density (G CM-3) – 7.01 g/cm3 at room temperature; 6.89 g/cm3 in liquid state
Melting Point – 1297 K; 1024 °C; 1875 °F
Boiling Point – 3347 K; 3074 °C; 5565 °F
Atomic Radius – 181 pm
Isotopes – 5
Electronic Shell – 2, 8, 18, 22, 8, 2
Discovery of Neodymium
An Austrian inventor and scientist, named Carl Auer von Welsbach, discovered Neodymium back in 1885 when he successfully managed to separate Neodymium alongside the element Praseodymium from the chemical mixture Didymium. He named the new chemical elements after Greek words. Neodymium comes from Neos, which means “new”, and Didymos, which means “twin”. The very first independent, pure and complete isolation of Neodymium was carried out in 1925.
Recognized by: Carl Auer von Welsbach (1885)
Known and discovered by: Carl Auer von Welsbach (1885)
Named by: Carl Auer von Welsbach
Uses and role of Neodymium
The earliest commercial uses of Neodymium were in the 1920s when it was applied in glass manufacturing. Nowadays this Lanthanide chemical element has various roles in many industries, including glass and magnet manufacturing, electronics, lighting, colorants, and so on.
It is largely used in the glass industry because of its large heat capacity and colorful specter. Apart from glass manufacturing, Neodymium finds applications in the magnet industry, as Neodymium magnets are among the strongest and most reliable ones known to mankind. They are used in guitars and other instruments, microphones, telephones, headphones, speakers, and even in hard-disk magnets. It can also be found in motors in electric and hybrid cars.
Neodymium on Earth
As a moderately toxic and highly reactive Lanthanide element Neodymium does not occur naturally in its metallic solid form on Earth unless it is mixed with other Lanthanides or other chemical elements in the Earth’s crust. It is a relatively common element, which is sometimes wrongfully assumed to be a rare earth element. It can be found mainly in monazite and bastnasite ores throughout China, US, Brazil, and Australia. It is the second most abundant Lanthanide element on Earth after Cerium.
Scientists have discovered that Neodymium magnets could play an important role in biomedicine as a way to boost bone repair procedures or to serve as braces. However, due to the fact that this element is strongly magnetic and combustible, it has been ruled out that at this point Neodymium won’t find a large application in present-day medicine.