Element 60 in our International Year of the Periodic Table series is neodymium. Neodymium is used in powerful magnets found in a variety of everyday products. It’s also used in lasers for eye surgery.
Neodymium is alloyed with iron and boron to make the strongest type of commercially available permanent magnets. These magnets have a whole host of applications; they’re found in headphones, speakers, microphones, computer disk drives, motors, and more. There’ll definitely be some neodymium somewhere in the device you’re currently reading this on.
Neodymium, along with praseodymium, is a component in didymium glass. For praseodymium, we discussed this glass’s use by welders and glassmakers. It can also be used in tanning booths, where it allows tanning UV light through while blocking infrared light.
Finally, neodymium glass can also be used to make lasers. These lasers find uses in eye surgery and in the treatment of some skin cancers.
Remember, you can keep track of all of the previous entries in this series on the site here, or on the Royal Society of Chemistry’s dedicated page.