Rare Earth Metals

Rare earth metals, also commonly known as rare earth elements (REE), are a group of periodic elements made up of the 15 lanthanides along with yttrium and scandium. Although not lanthanides, yttrium and scandium are still considered rare earths because they are often found in the same ore deposits as the lanthanides and exhibit similar properties. “Rare” is a bit of a misnomer when describing these elements, as the rare earths are actually plentiful in the Earth’s crust.

Below is a breakdown of each rare earth element and its common uses:

Element Common Uses
Scandium Aerospace components, mercury-vapor lamps
Yttrium Lasers, microwave filters, high-temperature superconductors
Light Rare Earth Elements (LREE)
Element Common Uses
Lanthanum Camera lenses, catalytic cracking catalyst for refining oil, high refractive index glass, battery electrodes
Cerium Glass and ceramics, polishing powder, chemical oxidizing agent
Praseodymium Rare earth magnets, lasers, carbon arc lighting
Neodymium Rare earth magnets, lasers
Promethium Nuclear batteries
Samarium Rare earth magnets, lasers, masers
Heavy Rare Earth Elements (HREE)
Element Common Uses
Europium Lasers, mercury vapor lamps
Gadolinium Rare earth magnets, lasers, x-ray tubes, MRI, computer memory
Terbium Lasers, fluorescent lamps
Dysprosium Rare earth magnets, lasers
Holmium Lasers
Erbium Lasers, vanadium steel
Thulium x-ray machines
Ytterbium Lasers
Lutetium PET scanners, high refractive glass