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Holmium

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  • Holmium was discovered by Delafontaine and Soret in 1878 AD. It is a soft silvery metallic element, which is found in the lanthanide series of inner transition metals in Group III a of the periodic table.

  • Holmium occurs with the rare earths in their ores. It is separated from other rare earths by ion exchange chromatography. It is prepared by reducing the anhydrous chloride with calcium .which is stable in air. It has unusual magnetic properties. It is used in the filters used for the calibration of the wavelength settings in UV spectrophotometers.

  • It is usually commercially extracted from monazite using ion exchange techniques. Its compounds in nature, and in nearly all of its laboratory chemistry, are trivalently oxidized, containing Ho(III) ions. Trivalent holmium ions have fluorescent properties similar to many other rare earth ions (while yielding their own set of unique emission light lines), and holmium ions are thus used in the same way as some other rare earths in certain laser and glass colorant applications.
    Holmium has the highest magnetic strength of any element and therefore is used for the pole pieces of the strongest static magnets. Because holmium strongly absorbs neutrons, it is also used in nuclear control rods.

  • Holmium has the highest magnetic moment (10.6 B) of any naturally occurring element and possesses other unusual magnetic properties. When combined with yttrium, it forms highly magnetic compounds.

  • Holmium is not naturally found as a free element. It does occur combined with other elements in gadolinite, monazite, and other rare-earth minerals. The main mining areas are China, United States, Brazil, India, Sri Lanka, and Australia with reserves of holmium estimated as
    400,000 tonnes.

  • Holmium is one of the colorants used for cubic zirconia and glass, providing yellow or red coloring. Glass containing holmium oxide and
    holmium oxide solutions have sharp optical absorption peaks in the spectral range 200900 nm. therefore used as a calibration standard for optical spectrophotometers.
    The radioactive but long-lived Ho-166m1 is used in calibration of gamma ray spectrometers
     

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