Color: silvery white with yellow luster
Atomic Weight: 144.242 u
Electronic Configuration: [Xe] 6s24f4
Melting Point: 1297 K
Boiling Point: 3373 K
a blue neodymium glass bead, stained with neodymium oxide
ultrapure neodymium, stored under argon
The name of the element is derived from the Greek words νέος (neos), meaning “new” and didymos, meaning “double” or “twin” (because it’s a “twin” of lanthanum).
In 1841, Swedish chemist Carl Gustav Mosander extracted a material called didymium from lanthanum oxide. Didymium was believed to be an element until 1874, when Swedish chemist Per Teodor Cleve recognized, that it must consist of two elements. (In fact, it consists of three.) In 1885, Austrian chemist Carl Freiherr Auer von Welsbach managed to isolate neodymium (and praseodymium) from didymium.
Neodymium is one of the rather abundant rare-Earth-elements, constituting about 22 ppm of the Earth’s crust. It often occurs alongside other lanthanides; important minerals are monazite and bastnäsite.
It is often used for very strong magnets (in an alloy containing iron and boron) such as the ones needed for MRI, as a dye for porcelain and glass, for UV-absorbing glass, Neodymium YAG lasers and as a catalyst.