Neodymium is a soft silvery metal that oxidizes when it is exposed to air. It is a chemical element and it represented by the atomic number 60 and the chemical symbol Nd. It is never found in free form in nature, but it can be found as a part of certain minerals, such as monazite and bastnäsite. It is classified as a rare earth element, but is actually very common in the crust of the Earth (it is estimated that the neodymium reserves could be higher than 8 million metric tons). About 7,000 metric tons are produced each year. The largest producer of this metal is China and other significant producers include the United States, India, Brazil, Sri Lanka, and Australia. Let’s find out who discovered this element.
Who discovered neodymium?
In 1841 Swedish chemist Carl Mosander discovered didymium, which he incorrectly believed to be a new element. In fact, didymium was a mixture of two previously undiscovered elements: praseodymium and neodymium. Swedish chemist Per Teodor Cleve was the first to conclude that didymium was actually a mixture of two or more elements. In 1885 Austrian chemist Carl Auer Freiherr von Welsbach isolated the salts of praseodymium and neodymium (which were recognized because of their different colors). He named the elements “praseodidymium” and “neodidymium”, but it wasn’t long before the names were shortened slightly. The name for this new element came from the Greek word neos (new) and from the name didymium.
Did you know?
Despite being discovered in 1885, Neodymium wasn’t isolated into its pure form until 1925. Just a few years later the first commercial application for this element was discovered (it was used to color glass and it is still used for this purpose today).