The element samarium has an atomic number 62, and is represented by the symbol 'Sm'. It is a metal with bright luster and is rarely found in the Earth's crust. It falls in the category of lanthanides, as the chemical properties of samarium and lanthanum are very much similar. Its electronic configuration is [Xe] 6s2 4f6 and the standard atomic weight is 150.36g·mol−1. It stays in the solid state at room temperature and its melts at 1962 °F.
Let's move on a have a look at some of its uses and related facts.
- Samarium is named after Colonel Samarski, a mine official from Russia.
- In the periodic table, it finds place in Group 3 elements. Amongst them, it is located in the 6th and 7th periods.
- Its ignition takes place at 150 °C and is stored in mineral oil. However, storing it in this kind of environment results in oxidation, which in turn results in the formation of a grayish-yellow powder.
- It reacts quickly with hot water, whereas the reaction with cold water takes place in a slow manner. This is due to its electropositive nature.
- The different compounds formed by this element are fluorides, chlorides, iodides, bromides, sulfides, oxides, tellurides, and selenides.
- The oxidation state of +3 is of common occurrence, however, the +2 oxidation state is also found. SmI2 is a compound with this state.
- It gets readily dissolved in dilute sulfuric acid and solutions formed as a result are pale green in color.
- Jean Charles Galissard de Marignac discovered it in the year 1853. A French chemist, Paul Émile Lecoq de Boisbaudran, isolated it in the year 1879 from samarskite.
- It was until the year 1950 that it didn't have any commercial application. The ion-exchange separation technology was used in the 1950s to get its pure form.
- The electrolysis process is commonly used in its extraction, for which a mixture (molten) of samarium (III) chloride, and calcium chloride or sodium chloride is used.
It is used in carbon-arc lighting. This metal is also used in optical lasers. In applications like lasers, it is used as a dopant. Neutron absorbers of nuclear reactors also make use of samarium. It is also most commonly used in headphones.