REEs are a series of chemical elements found in the Earth’s crust that are essential components of many technologies, including electronics, computer and communication systems, transportation, health care, and national defense. Rare Earths Elements (REE) are incorporated into many sophisticated technologies with both commercial and defense applications including smartphones and flatscreen televisions to hybrid cars, wind-turbine power systems to communications equipment. These are referred to as “rare” because although relatively abundant in total quantity, they appear in low concentrations in the earth’s crust and extraction and processing is both difficult and costly.
Rare earth elements consist of 17 elements on the periodic table, including 15 elements beginning with atomic number 57 (lanthanum) and extending through number 71 (lutetium), as well as two other elements having similar properties (yttrium and scandium).
Rare earths are divided into two groups: light rare earth elements (LREE) – lanthanum, cerium, praseodymium, neodymium, promethium, and samarium, and heavy rare earth elements (HREE) – europium, gadolinium, terbium, dysprosium, holmium, erbium, thulium, ytterbium, lutetium, scandium, and yttrium.
Russian Physicists’ Research Might Lead to a New Generation of Microprocessors, microminiature nanolaser, and long-range space communication systems
Anatoly Zatsepin, head of the laboratory named “Photonics and VUV Spectroscopy” of the Department of Physical Methods and Instruments of Control has carried out fundamental studies of oxides of rare-earth elements with reduced dimensionality. The objects of research raise interest of the scientific society as they can be used as new materials with predetermined properties for devices converting UV and IR radiation. In the long run, the research may lead to creation of a new generation of microprocessors which are dozens of times faster and smaller than the existing ones.
“The audience received my report with great interest and were really impressed by some of the results we had achieved,” said Anatoly Zatsepin. “In the course of studies of gadolinium oxide nanoparticles, we discovered the so-called ‘giant softening effect of optical phonons’. We managed to create conditions under which the energy of UV and IR radiation absorbed by these nanoparticles can be converted into visible light with maximum efficiency. At the same time, the energy losses, which inevitably exist, turned out to be an order of magnitude lower than they should be in theory.”
According to Anatoly Zatsepin, the effect has been repeatedly checked and confirmed. Such result allows to achieve an increase in efficiency of long-range space communication systems, complex integrated chips, in the creation of new generation microminiature nanolaser, which will be in demand in both medical and biological studies and in practical medicine. At the moment, scientists of the UrFU Institute of Physics and Technology are developing a theoretical model which could adequately describe the results.
The project for the study of rare earth oxides with reduced dimensionality has already received support from the Ministry of Education and Science of the Russian Federation.