Some of the names of chemical elements are so rare that even a sophisticated expert might never have heard of them. Nevertheless, many of these elements form the foundation of modern science. For example, europium is very important in the manufacture of computer monitors, and tellurium is used in solar panels and microcircuits. Read on Naked Science about the "unknown" elements that are difficult to live without.
The rare element europium (Europium), belonging to the group of lanthanides, can be found … in euros. Its extremely small amount contains a metal tag on the bill, preventing counterfeiting. Element (atomic number 63) was discovered in the early twentieth century and is named after Europe. There are several mines in the world where europium is mined: in China, Russia, as well as a small mine in the USA. But its stocks are considered to be in short supply. According to some reports, the cost of one gram of Eu reaches $ 2,000. Another interesting application of europium has become the color rendering of TV screens and computer monitors. It is he who, due to its chemical properties, ensures the presence of a rich red color on the screen.
The element argon (Argon) is better known than its counterpart europium due to the same welding, lamps and prevalence in the earth's atmosphere. However, few people know that the inert gas argon (atomic number 18) is also used in the installation of energy-saving windows. Due to its low heat conductivity, it is placed between glass panes. Argon itself is safe, but it has the property of "squeezing" oxygen out of the atmosphere. Hence another use of the element - it is used in factory slaughterhouses to kill, for example, birds.
Scandium was discovered in 1879 and is named so by chemist Lars Frederick Nilsson after Scandinavia. This element is quite common in the earth's crust (it is extracted from the mineral tortveitite), but even 100 years after its discovery, people still have not figured out how to use scandium (atomic number 21). In the 1970s, experts discovered that this silvery metal combined with aluminum to produce a surprisingly strong and lightweight alloy that could be used successfully in the aerospace industry.
Isaac Asimov has a small science fiction story called A Trap for Simpletons. Its heroes - scientists - are trying to establish the reasons for the death of a colony of settlers on the planet immediately after its landing. It turned out that the cause was beryllium caused by beryllium (Beryllium) released to the surface. In fact, the harm of beryllium (atomic number 4) is not entirely fiction, although it is exaggerated by Azimov. According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer, beryllium is a carcinogen. On the other hand, the value of beryllium is undeniable: when combined with chrome, it takes on a beautiful greenish tint and becomes a gem known as an emerald.
The most mystical element can be called gallium (Gallium) because of its unusual field of application. By day, serious people use gallium (atomic number 31) for semiconductor manufacturing or in the pharmaceutical industry. And in the evening, gallium enters the stage with the illusionists. The fact is that this soft and shiny metal has an interesting property. At a temperature slightly above room temperature, it begins to "melt". That is, if you put a gallium spoon on the table, it remains a spoon.But in a glass of hot tea it will “dissolve”. The same will happen if you heat a gallium spoon for a long time with the warmth of your hand. Hence the famous trick with a spoon, "bent by the power of thought."