Rare Earth Summer: Dysprosium

So you've never heard of dysprosium? 

Have you looked at a screen today? 

Did you set your phone to silent this morning (let's be real, it's always on silent)?

Did you drive to work this morning? Or maybe you rode the bus or a train/metro/subway?

Chances are, you've interacted with dysprosium.

Dysprosium is the 66th element on the periodic table. It is a silvery metal that is somewhat reactive with air, so it's not often found in a chunk the way we think of iron, gold, or copper. Instead, it is used in alloys, or mixtures of metals, so that we can leverage its properties, but ensure it does not oxidize (think rust/tarnish) away to nothing.

A discovery of the mid-19th century (listen to the full history lesson here), dysprosium gets its name from the Greek "dysprositos" or "hard to get at".

Due to four unpaired electrons, dysprosium has a wide variety of electronic and magnetic applications. Additionally, due to its relatively large size, it is good as absorbing neutrons. As such, dysprosium is often used in digital screens, data storage devices, specialized lamps (film industry), magnets, EV batteries and even in nuclear fuel rod core controls!

In 2018, the first major dysprosium mine outside of China opened in Australia. To date, this enterprise has grown to include China, Russia, Australia, and the USA as dysprosium manufacturers. Currently, tests are being conducted at the University of Minnesota-Duluth's Natural Resources Research Institute (NRRI) in partnership with Weir Minerals on its Elk Creek project. Among the target minerals, dysprosium oxide makes the list.

More resources on dysprosium: 

https://www.livescience.com/38292-dysprosium.html

https://www.rsc.org/periodic-table/element/66/dysprosium

https://www.cnbc.com/2021/04/17/the-new-us-plan-to-rival-chinas-dominance-in-rare-earth-metals.html