Member of the lanthanide series, samarium is a metal with a bright silver color. Its atomic number is 62, while its symbol is 'Sm'. This element got its name from a compound called samarskite. The mineral samarskite was named after a mining official from Russia known as Colonel Samarskia. This metal cannot be found in nature in its free form. Different compounds in which it is found in nature include bastnasite, monazite, and samarskite.
Alloys: A rare kind of earth magnet, samarium-cobalt (SmCo5) is made from it. Developed in the 1970s, this is a permanent magnet, and is amongst the strongest and second only to neodymium magnets. This magnet is known to have great resistance in the process of demagnetization. It is used in computer memories as well.
Carbon-arc Lamps: The oxide of samarium, known as samaria, is used in making carbon-arc lamps. It is one of the constituent of the electrodes used to make these lamps. Carbon-arc lamps are used for the purpose of lighting at studios. This element is also used in projector lights. A metal called Misch contains samarium as its component. Misch is used to make flints that are required in lighters.
Medicinal Use:Severe pain that one experiences while suffering from cancer is treated with this element. Radioactive samarium-153 is used for this purpose. The drug Quadramet is prepared with it.
Optical Glass:It is one of the materials used in making optical glass. It helps in absorbing infrared light, and is used in the form of samarium oxide for making optical glass.
Ethanol Treatment:It functions as a catalyst in few of the chemical reactions. These chemical processes include the dehydrogenation and dehydration of ethanol.
Barbier Reaction: It is used in the organic synthesis process called Barbier reaction. In this reaction, the chemical reagent samarium oxide is used.
Sensitizers:It is used as a sensitizer for phosphors. The phosphors are present in the infrared and they possess the property of luminescence.
Nuclear Reactor:It finds application in nuclear reactors, where it is used for the purpose of absorbing neutrons.
Lasers and Optical Masers:It is used in the process of doping of CaF2 crystals.
Facts of Samarium
- Its discovery took place in the year 1853. Jean Charles Galissard de Marignac, a Swiss chemist is credited with the discovery of this element.
- It belongs to the sixth period of the periodic table, and it is one of the inner transition metals.
- It is known to ignite at a temperature of 150 °C. At room temperature, however, it remains stable.