Lanthanide Series: Elements & Periodic Table

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  • 0:04 The Lanthanide Series
  • 0:34 Lanthanide Series Elements
  • 3:18 Lanthanide Properties
  • 3:52 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Sarah Pierce

Sarah has a doctorate in chemistry, and 12 years of experience teaching high school chemistry & biology, as well as college level chemistry.

This lesson introduces the elements that are in the lanthanide series of the periodic table. The identity of the elements, uses, and properties are also discussed.

The Lanthanide Series

Have you ever wondered what lighter flints, super strong magnets, and safety glasses for glassblowing have in common? They're all made from elements in the lanthanide series on the periodic table. Lighter flints are an iron mixed with the lanthanide elements lanthanum, cerium, praseodymium, and neodymium. Neodymium, another element in the lanthanide series, is used to make super strong magnets. The glass in the safety glasses for glassblowing is made from a mixture of praseodymium and neodymium.

Lanthanide Series Elements

There are 15 elements in the lanthanide series, which is generally shown at the bottom of the periodic table. The series of elements are called the lanthanides because they're so similar to the element lanthanum. The general symbol Ln is used when referring to the lanthanides. On the periodic table, the elements are arranged by their atomic number, or the number of protons in their nucleus. The lanthanide elements range in atomic number from 57 to 71. We'll first look at the element's name, its symbol, and some of its uses.

Atomic Number Element Name Element Symbol Uses
57 Lanthanum La lighter flints, camera lenses
58 Cerium Ce lighter flints, catalytic converters
59 Praseodymium Pr eyeglasses for glass blowers, magnets
60 Neodymium Nd magnets, lasers
61 Promethium Pm radioactive paint
62 Samarium Sm magnets, cancer medicines
63 Europium Eu phosphor for color television sets, fluorescent light bulbs
64 Gadolinium Gd contrast agent for MRI, refractive glass
65 Terbium Tb terfenol loudspeakers, red decorative glass
66 Dysprosium Dy magnets, lasers
67 Holmium Ho MRI machines, lasers
68 Erbium Er fiber optic cables, lasers
69 Thulium Tm x-ray source for portable machines
70 Ytterbium Yb lasers
71 Lutetium Lu PET scan machines

All the lanthanides are rare earth metals. The name 'rare earth metal' is a bit of a misnomer. The elements aren't hard to find, but they're hard to separate from each other. That's why so many lanthanides are found in the lighter flint we talked about earlier. Lanthanum, cerium, praseodymium, and neodymium are hard to separate from each other, so they're all mixed together in the flint. As a matter of fact, different flints will have different amounts of each element.

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