Europium is a chemical element with the symbol Eu and atomic number 63. It is not found freely in nature. Most of the minerals comprise of Eu with the vital sources being monazite and bastnasite. It is a soft white-silvery metal. The enrichment or depletion of Eu in minerals related to other rare earth elements is termed as europium anomaly. It is also the softest lanthanide, as it can be dented with a fingernail and easily cut with a knife. When oxidation is removed a shiny-white metal is visible. The element was discovered in 1901 by French chemist Eugene-Anatole Demarçay and named after the continent of Europe.
Uses of Europium
- It is used as control rods in nuclear reactors due to its effectiveness in absorbing neutrons.
- Eu oxide has its application as a phosphor activator.
- Eu-doped plastics are used as laser materials and for making thin superconducting alloys.
- It is used in the euro currency as an anti-forgery measure.
Characteristics of Europium
- Europium is the most reactive rare-earth element. It rapidly oxidizes in air, so that bulk oxidation of a centimeter-sized sample occurs within several days.
- It dissolves readily in dilute sulfuric acid to form pale pink solutions of the hydrated Eu(III), which exist as a nonahydrate
- Eu is a ductile metal with a hardness similar to that of lead. It crystallizes in a body-centered cubic lattice. Some properties of Eu are strongly influenced by its half-filled electron shell. Europium has the second lowest melting point and the lowest density of all lanthanides.
- Europium becomes a superconductor when it is cooled below 1.8 K and compressed to above 80 GPa.