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The Heavy Rare Earths and Their Uses

Sydney-based Lynas Corporation will soon open its rare earths refinery in Malaysia, through which it aims to maintain a steady supply of the elements. Pulling raw materials from the largest repository of rare earths in the world, Lynas Corporation will offer a full range of products, from the most popular elements to the so-called heavy lanthanides, such as samarium, dysprosium, terbium, and gadolinium.

Samarium plays a critical role in the creation of neodymium laser rods and dysprosium has resulted in the creation of smaller digital equipment that operates at high processing speeds. Energy efficient fluorescent lamps benefit from terbium, as do devices for recording data. Gadolinium displays uncommon magnetic behavior that enabled scientists to create magneto-optic recording devices and improve data storage technology.

Other heavy rare earths include thulium, which reduces x-ray exposure during scans; ytterbium, which allows scientists to better gauge earthquakes; and lutetium, which plays a role in positron emission tomography scans. As Lynas Corporation recognizes, the uses for these elements will only continue to expand in coming years.

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