Rare-Earth Elements in Lighting and Optical Applications and Their Recycling


Rare-earth elements (REEs) are used in lighting and optical applications to enable color and light adjustment, miniaturization, and energy efficiency. Common applications of REEs include phosphors for light-emitting diodes, lasers, and electronic video displays. This article reviews how REEs are widely used in these applications. However, supply constraints, including rising prices, environmental concerns over mining and refining processes, and China’s control over the supply of the vast majority of REEs, are of concern for manufacturers. In view of these supply constraints, this article discusses ways for manufacturers of lighting and optical devices to identify potential substitutes and recycling methods for REEs.

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The authors would like to thank the more than 100 companies and organizations that support research activities at the Center for Advanced Life Cycle Engineering at the University of Maryland annually, specifically the CALCE Prognostics and Health Management Group.

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Correspondence to Michael Pecht.

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Song, X., Chang, MH. & Pecht, M. Rare-Earth Elements in Lighting and Optical Applications and Their Recycling. JOM 65, 1276–1282 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11837-013-0737-6

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