Lanthanum, first discovered in 1893, is a great example of this. There's more lanthanum on this planet than silver or lead and it's the second most abundant rare earth element, but there weren't a lot of uses for it in the early days. Today, every Prius hybrid car on the road carries with it about 10 pounds of lanthanum. And yet, most Prius owners don't even know they use this rare earth element every day. A big breakthrough in battery technology, nickel-lanthanum hydride batteries pack more power into a smaller space
Europium was the first isolated, high purity rare earth element to enter the public marketplace, in 1967, as a source of the color red in TV sets. There had been color TV before europium, but the color quality was weak. Today, as cathode ray tube TVs go the way of the dodo, europium is more likely to turn up in white LED-based lights, which could someday be an energy efficient replacement for both incandescent and compact fluorescent bulbs.
The applications of erbium are deeply important: add a little erbium to the optical fibers that carry data in the form of light pulses, and those pulses get amplified. It can also be used as part of the gain medium that amplifies light in a laser. When you do this, you end up with a laser that can be used for dental surgery and skin treatments because it doesn't build up much heat in the human skin it's pointed at.
In the late '70s, Sony introduced the Walkman, a (relatively)
For more information on these and other rare earth metals, their applications and investment opportunities, you can contact Charles Braizer Global Markets, who have a wide range of information materials about them.
Charles Braizer Global Markets is a Manchester-based company providing investment opportunities in the precious metals and rare earth metal sectors. For more information about Charles Braizer Global Markets, visit http://www.cbgmarkets.co.uk