Skip to Main Content

Samarium (Sm): Lanthanides

Samarium (Sm)

What is Samarium?

Samarium is one of the rare earth elements found in Row 6 of the periodic table. The periodic table is a chart that shows how chemical elements are related to each other. The rare earth metals are not really very rare in the Earth's surface. The name comes from the fact that these elements are very difficult to separate from each other. For a long time, chemists knew very little about the individual elements. A more correct name for the rare earth elements is the lanthanide series. It is named after the element lanthanuma transition metal also often considered a lanthanide.  Samarium looks and behaves like most other metals, but it has relatively few uses. One of the most important is in the manufacture of very powerful magnets. Compounds of samarium are also used to color glass and in television tubes.  Continue reading from Chemistry Explained

The History

Samarium was one of the rare earths (aka lanthanoids) which perplexed and puzzled the chemists of the 1800s. Its history began with the discovery of cerium in 1803. This was suspected of harbouring other metals, and in 1839 Carl Mosander claimed to have obtained lanthanum and didymium from it. While he was right about lanthanum, he was wrong about didymium. In 1879, Paul-Émile Lecoq de Boisbaudran extracted didymium from the mineral samarskite. He then made a solution of didymium nitrate and added ammonium hydroxide. He observed that the precipitate which formed came down in two stages. He concentrated his attention on the first precipitate and measured its spectrum which revealed it to be a new element samarium. Samarium itself was eventually to yield other rare-earths: gadolinium in 1886 and europium in 1901. Continue reading from Royal Society of Chemistry

Samarium Facts

Samarium, part of the lanthanide group of elements, is fairly stable in air and has a bright silver sheen. Three crystal modifications of the metal exist, with transformations at 734 and 922 C (1,353 and 1,692 F). Samarium provides carbon-arc lighting for the motion picture industry. The element used as a neutron absorber in nuclear reactors and in infrared absorbing glass. Continue reading from LiveScience

Chart of Elemental Properties for Samarium

Watch a Video on Samarium

Check out our Science Database or a Science Book from our Collection

Link to Science Reference Center Database
Link to Elemental by Tim James in the Catalog
Link to The Periodic Table: A Very Short Introduction by Eric Scerri in the Catalog
Link to Eureka by Chad Orzel in the Catalog
Link to Periodic Tales by Hugh Aldersey Williams in Hoopla
Link to Superheavy by Kit Chapman in the Catalog
Link to Absolutely Small by Michael D. Fayer in the Catalog
Link to Seven Elements That Changed The World by John Browne in the Catalog
Link to The Elements by Theodore W. Gray in the Catalog
Link to 10 Women Who Changed Science, And The World by Catherine Whitlock in the Catalog
Link to From Arsenic to Zirconium by Peter Davern in the Catalog
Link to Chemistry Demystified by Linda Williams in the Catalog
Link to The Disappearing Spoon by Sam Kean in the Catalog

Return to the Periodic Table of Elements Resource Guide Series