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Analysis of rare metals and rare earths

Background / Related Laws / Regulation / Revision

Rare metals and rare earths (referred to below as "rare earths, etc.") are sometimes called the "vitamins of industry." They are used in a wide range of fields, including the automobile industry and the electronics industry, and are essential for the development of today's advanced technology.
Recently, there have been concerns in Japan about a shortage of supply of rare earths etc., and it is expected that the amounts used will increase in the future, and thus it is believed, for example, that the following measures will be necessary.

  1. Development of alternative materials and technologies for reducing amounts used
  2. Development of technologies and equipment to recover and recycle rare earths and other rare resources (including recycling from so-called "urban mines")
  3. Support for domestic siting of firms with core rare earth technology

At Sumika Chemical Analysis Service, we carry out elemental analysis of rare earths, etc. in various components and raw materials. Aside from elemental analysis, we also welcome consultations regarding comparative analysis and evaluation between current products and developed/improved products in the development of alternatives. This type of analysis/evaluation is done using the various analysis technologies we have developed over many years.

Main applications of major rare metals

Element symbol Element name Atomic number Main applications
Li Lithium 3 Lithium ion batteries (LIB), lubricating grease, aircraft materials, therapeutic medications, fireworks, etc. 
Be Beryllium 4 Neutron moderators, X-ray sources, treble speakers, alloy materials, etc. 
B Boron 5 Heat-resistant glass, glass fiber raw materials, boric acid cockroach bait (insecticide), etc. 
Ti Titanium 22 Aircraft fuselages, shape memory alloys, sporting goods, photocatalysts, printing inks, white pigments, cosmetics, etc. 
V Vanadium 23 Steelmaking additives, superconducting magnets, catalysts, dyes/pigments, etc. 
Cr Chromium 24 Stainless steel, nichrome, chrome plating, oxidizers, etc. 
Mn Manganese 25 Manganese batteries, steel materials, oxidants, etc. 
Co Cobalt 27 Alloy materials, γ-rays, LIB electrode materials, magnets, paints, etc. 
Ni Nickel 28 Stainless steel materials, shape memory alloys, nichrome wire, nickel cadmium batteries, shape memory alloy materials, etc. 
Ga Gallium 31 Blue LED materials, various electronic devices, compound semiconductors, etc. 
Ge Germanium 32 Diodes,infrared lenses, photodetectors, etc. 
Se Selenium 34 Photosensitive drums, camera exposure meters, glass colorants/decolorants, rectifiers,etc. 
Rb Rubidium 37 Rubidium oscillators, atomic clocks, dating, etc. 
Mo Molybdenum 42 Oil additives,molybdenum steel, electronic substrates, etc. 

Main applications of major rare earths

Element symbol Element name Atomic number Main applications
Sc Scandium 21 Lighting for sports and movie photography, lightweight bicycle frames, metal halide lamps, catalysts, etc. 
Y Yttrium 39 Phosphors, optical glass, capacitor dielectrics, laser materials, permanent magnets, oxide superconductors, etc. 
La Lanthanum 57 Special glass raw materials, automobile emissions gas reducing catalysts, hydrogen storage alloys, etc. 
Ce Cerium 58 Catalysts for automobile emissions gas clean-up, abrasives, ultraviolet absorbing materials, oxidizers, etc. 
Pr Praseodymium 59 Magnetic materials, goggles for welding work, glazes, optic fibers, etc.
Nd Neodymium 60 Magnetic materials, laser materials, colorants, etc. 
Pm Promethium 61 Luminous paints, fluorescent lamp glow-discharge tubes, β-ray thickness gauges, atomic batteries, etc. 
Sm Samarium 62 Magnetic materials, laser materials, dating, automobile emissions gas reducing catalysts, etc. 
Eu Europium 63 Phosphors, magnetic semiconductors, optical inks, NMR shift reagents, etc. 
Gd Gadolinium 64 Magneto-optical disks, optic fibers, contrast media, fluoresceination agents, magnetic refrigerants, etc. 
Tb Terbium 65 Magneto-optical disks, magnetic materials, lasers, printing heads, etc. 
Dy Dysprosium 66 Magnetic materials, fluorescent paint, magnetic disk materials, etc. 
Ho Holmium 67 Laser scalpels, glass coloration, holmium lasers, spectrophotometer adjustment, etc. 
Er Erbium 68 Optic fiber additives, lasers, glass coloration, etc. 
Tm Thulium 69 Optic fibers, lasers, phosphors, X-ray source radiation dosimeters, etc. 
Yb Ytternium 70 Glass coloration, laser materials, radiation sources, capacitors, Lewis acid catalysts, etc. 
Lu Lutetium 71 Positron detectors (PET diagnosis), dating, etc. 

Main analysis items

  • Quantitative analysis of elements (ICP-AES, ICP-MS, atomic absorption spectrometry)
  • Qualitative analysis of elements (XRF, XRD, EDX, etc.)
  • Surface analysis (XPS, TOF-SIMS, etc.)
  • Area analysis (FE-EPMA, Raman, etc.)
  • Morphological observation (FE-SEM, FE-TEM, confocal laser microscope)
  • Elemental analysis of micro parts (FE-TEM-EDX)
  • *There are cases where measurement is impossible due to the sample form or properties.

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