The most striking fact about rare earth chemistry is the extraordinary similarity in the properties of all the elements. They all appear to be group IIIA elements of the periodic table like yttrium (Y). This arises of course from the fact that the 4f shell of electrons is being filled at this point in the periodic table, while the number of outer valence electrons remains unchanged. The 4f electrons are closely bound inside the outer closed shells and therefore play a small role in chemical bonding. On the other hand the f electrons with their high angular momentum are responsible for the magnetic properties of rare earth materials and these vary strikingly from atom to atom since the interelectronic interactions on the atom give many states which change in detail as the number of 4f electrons changes. In addition they give many low-lying energy levels which may be investigated spectroscopically.


Rare Earth Rare Earth Metal Crystal Field Spin Wave Light Rare Earth 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1972

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. J. Elliott
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Theoretical PhysicsUniversity of OxfordOxfordEngland

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