Dysprosium is a rare earth element that is silvery-white in appearance. It is a chemical element with the atomic number 66 and the chemical symbol Dy. Dysprosium is never found in its free form on Earth, but can be found in many minerals. It was one of the last naturally occurring elements to be isolated in pure form, which occurred in the 1950′s. Although it is classified as a rare earth element it occurs at a rate of 5.2 mg per kg in the crust of the Earth. The majority (99%) of dysprosium is produced in China, but there are reported to be high yields of this element in Australia as well. About 100 metric tons are produced each year and all of this is used for various applications. It is estimated that a shortfall of this element will occur in 2015. Let’s take a close look at what this element is used for.
Uses of dysprosium?
Dysprosium can be used with vanadium (and other elements) to produce commercial lighting and lasers.
A composite material containing ceramics and metallic materials, including dysprosium, is used for the control rods in nuclear reactors. It is also used in dosimeters, which are devices used to measure ionizing radiation.
Dysprosium is highly magnetic and it is commonly used in applications that utilize this property, such as computer hard disks. Dysprosium can be used to replace neodymium in certain types of magnets. However, this is not common because it would exhaust the supply of this element.
Dysprosium, along with iron and terbium, is used to create the alloy Terfenol-D. This alloy is used in a number of precision instruments.
Dysprosium nanofibers are very strong and have a large surface area. This means that they are perfect for reinforcing other materials. They can also be used as a catalyst.
Dysprosium iodide and dysprosium bromide are both used to produce bright electric lights, known as metal-halide lamps. These are commonly used in applications that require very bright lights, such as lighting for sporting fields.
A number of dysprosium salts are used in a special types of magnetic refrigerator – called a Adiabatic Demagnetization Refrigerator.