Neodymium and Its Uses
Many people across the world may have never come across or known about the element Neodymium but as you would imagine unless you were in the magnetics industry why would you? What you don’t realise is how neodymium is present in a lot of everyday items that you would not expect to contain neodymium or strong permanent neodymium magnets as an essential element for the product to function. In this article, we are going to explain the properties of Neodymium and how the element has been researched to create the strongest magnets in the world.
Neodymium is an element with the symbols Nd and was first discovered by Karl Auer in 1885. This element derived from didymium when its existence was revealed through atomic spectroscopy. Didymium is a unique glass which is most commonly used for heavy-duty goggles such as welding goggles. The neodymium glass which is extracted is used to make professional medical lasers for cosmetic surgery and many more applications which we will discuss further later.
The natural abundance of this element makes it hard to extract and researchers have spent years finding numerous techniques to source this element including minerals monazite and bastnaesite. It was found that Neodymium can be extracted from specific mineral via ion exchange and solvent extraction.
Neodymium and The World’s Strongest Magnets
In 1984 general motors started researching it neodymium as a replacement for the highly-priced samarium cobalt permanent magnet and what they found was astonishing. By creating an alloy of neodymium, iron and boron a permanent magnet is produced that a few grams of could lift a thousand times its own weight. This was not only a scientific breakthrough but could revolutionise the magnetics industry as neodymium magnets are much cheaper to produce, lighter and stronger than any other magnet available.
Everyday Application of Neodymium Magnets
Since there creation neodymium magnets have been used across a vast variety of industries such as motoring manufacturing, medical science, aerospace and more due to there ease of application and beneficial properties they bring. Listed below are a few items that rely on neodymium to properly function that you wouldn’t realise require magnets.
- Hard disk drives
- Motors and generators
- MRI Scanners