Samarium is an element represented on the periodic table by the Sm symbol and having the atomic number of 62. This hard, silver metal is a lanthanide series member and assumes an oxidation state of +3. Although it plays no significant role in biology, samarium does have several uses and somewhat of an interesting history behind it. Continue reading to find out more about this element – don’t thank us; just use it later to impress all of your friends.
1. Paul Emile Lecoq de Boisbaudran, a French chemist responsible for the discovery of several elements, is credited with samarium’s detection in the late 19th century, after successfully isolating it in 1879 from samarskite. He identified this new element by the absorption lines, which were sharp optical lines.
2. Samarskite was initially located in the Urals of Russia, but several other deposits were located by the 1870s, which made the mineral more vulnerable to those interested in researching it. Today, it can be found all over the world and is widely mined in Australia, Brazil, China, India, Sri Lanka and the United States at a production rate of nearly 700 tons each year.
3. Samarium is actually considered to rate 40th in abundance in the Earth’s crust. The concentration, on average, is roughly 8 ppm (parts per million). Its soil concentration can range from 2 – 23 ppm and ocean concentration ranges from 0.5 – 0.8 ppt (parts per trillion). Higher concentrations are typically found in sandy soil areas.
4. Although samarium is not a free element in nature, it is frequently found contained within bastnasite, cerite, gadolinite, monazite and samarskite. Bastnasite and monazite are the two minerals most frequently used in mining samarium commercially. flotation reagent
5. Samarium is similar to zinc in density and hardness and is the 3rd most volatile of the lanthanides, with a boiling point at 1794 degrees Celsius. At temperatures below 731 degrees Celsius, samarium is trigonal in structure; however, this structure shifts to a hexagonal close-packed one at temperatures above 731 degrees Celsius and further shifts to a body-centered cubic structure at temperatures above 922 degrees Celsius.
6. At normal room temperature, samarium is paramagnetic, but at 14.8 K, it transforms to a antiferromagnetic state and, at 8 K or below, it becomes a superconductor.
7. Samarium oxidizes slowly at normal room temperature, but will ignite spontaneously at 150 degrees Celsius. Samarium will also gradually oxidize, even in mineral oil, and form a yellowishgray powder surface mixture, which is an oxide-hydroxide.
8. Samarium is used in creating magnets, most notably, samarium-cobalt magnets that possess a permanent, extremely high magnetization. However, it is also used as a chemical reagent and catalyst.