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Rare earth elements: essential elements for modern technology

Rare earth elements are a group of chemical elements that play an essential role in our daily lives, although most of us are not familiar with them. These elements are present in numerous technological products we use, from smartphones to electric cars and wind turbines. In this page, we will explore what rare earth elements are, their unique properties, and their applications in various industries

What are rare earth elements?

Rare earth elements are a group of 17 chemical elements that are found in nature. They include names such as neodymium, dysprosium, praseodymium, and yttrium. Despite their name, rare earth elements are not necessarily rare in the Earth's crust, but they are often difficult to extract and purify. Their relative scarcity and unique properties make them valuable resources.

Graphique réserve de terres raress
and Uses:

Distribution of known rare earth oxide reserves worldwide in 2018. Rounded estimates provided.

Source: US Geological Survey

Rare earth elements have physical and chemical properties that make them extremely useful in various applications. One of their most remarkable characteristics is their ability to generate and retain a powerful magnetic field. This makes them essential in the production of permanent magnets used in electric motors, speakers, hard drives, and many other electronic devices.

Rare earth elements are also used in the renewable energy industry, particularly in the manufacturing of wind turbines and solar panels. Rare earth-based magnets optimize the efficiency of wind turbines and electric generators, while solar cells utilize rare earth-doped materials to convert sunlight into electricity.

In the field of electronics, rare earth elements are present in LCD screens, smartphones, laptops, and tablets. They enhance color quality, display, and the lifespan of these devices.

Furthermore, rare earth elements are utilized in the automotive industry for the production of electric and hybrid vehicles. Rare earth-based magnets enable the creation of more powerful and compact motors, thus contributing to the growth of electric cars.

the 17 rare metals

  1. Lanthanum (The)

  2. Cerium (Ce)

  3. Praseodymium (Pr)

  4. Neodymium (Nd)

  5. Promethium (Pm)

  6. Samarium (Sm)

  7. Europium (Eu)

  8. Gadolinium (Gd)

  9. Terbium (Tb)

  10. Dysprosium (Dy)

  11. Holmium (Ho)

  12. Erbium (Er)

  13. Thulium (Tm)

  14. Ytterbium (Yb)

  15. Lutetium (Lu)

  16. Scandium (Sc)

  17. Yttrium (Y)

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