Chemical Element: neodymium

(Modern Latin: chemical element; from Greek, neo, "new" plus didymon, "twin" [with the element praseodymium]; rare earth)

Chemical-Element Information

Symbol: Nd
Atomic number: 60
Year discovered: 1885

Discovered by: Carl Auer, Freiherr von Welsbach (1858-1929), an Austrian chemist.

  • In 1885, von Welsbach separated didymium, an extract of cerite, into two new elemental components, neodymia and praseodymia, by repeated fractionation of ammonium didymium nitrate.
  • While the free metal is a component of misch metal (a pyrophoric alloy for lighter flints), the element was not isolated in relatively pure form until 1925.
  • It is slowly oxidized by air, burns easily to give sesquioxide and reacts gradually with cold water, or rapidly with hot water, to liberate hydrogen.
  • Neodymium is one of the more reactive rare-earth metals and quickly tarnishes in air, forming an oxide that flakes, or chips, off and exposes the metal to further oxidation.
  • The metal is used in the electronics industry, in the manufacture of steel and as a component of a number of alloys, among them the misch metal used in lighter flints (as mentioned earlier).
  • Its compounds are used in the ceramics industry for glazes and to color glass.
  • The crude oxide is employed for counteracting the color of iron in glass and the more pure compound is used in the production of the only known glass that is bright purple.
  • A mixture of neodymium and praseodymium absorbs light in the region of the harmful sodium D lines and therefore is used in the glass of welders’ and glass blowers’ goggles.

Name in other languages:

French: néodyme

German: Neodym

Italian: neodimio

Spanish: neodimi

Information about other elements may be seen at this Chemical Elements List.

A special unit about words that include chemo-, chem- may be seen here.