Neodymium

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Neodymium (play /ˌn.ɵˈdɪmiəm/ NEE-o-DIM-ee-əm) is a chemical element with the symbol Nd and atomic number 60. It is a soft silvery metal which tarnishes in air. Neodymium was discovered in 1885. It is present in significant quantities in the ore minerals monazite and bastnäsite. Neodymium is not found naturally in metallic form or unaccompanied by other lanthanides, and it is usually refined for general use. Although classed as a "rare earth" it is no more rare than cobalt, nickel or copper [2], and is widely distributed in the Earth's crust. The bulk of the world's neodymium is presently mined in China.

Neodymium compounds were first commercially used as a glass dye in 1927 and they remain a popular additive in glass. The color, due to the Nd(III) ion, is often a reddish-purple but changes with the type of lighting, due to fluorescent effects. Such neodymium-doped glass is also used in lasers emitting infrared light with the wavelength of 1.054–1.062 micrometers. Neodymium is also used with various other supporting crystals, such as in Nd:YAG lasers, which typically generate 1.064 micrometer light. This is one of the most significant solid-state lasers.

Neodymium's other chief application is as a free element, used as an alloy constituent of high strength neodymium magnets, the strongest permanent magnets known. These are widely used in such products as microphones, professional loudspeakers, in-ear headphones, and computer hard disks, where low mass, small volume, or strong magnetic fields are required. Larger neodymium magnets are used in high power/weight electric motors (for example in hybrid cars) and generators (for example aircraft and wind turbine generators).[3]

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