Lutetium is the last element in the lanthanide elements series. It was isolated separately and independently by two chemists, Carl Auer Freiherr von Welsbach and Georges Urbain, in 1907. Lutetium is derived from Lutetia: the Roman name for the city of Paris.
Lutetium is the densest and hardest of the rare earths and has the highest melting point. Lutetium lacks a magnetic moment. It is truly a ‘rare' element and as such, is not widely used and expensive to obtain.
Applications of Lutetium:
- Electronics: A tiny amount of lutetium is added as a dopant to gadolinium gallium garnet, used in magnetic bubble memory devices for computers. It is also used in x-ray phosphors where it is combined with tantalum.
- Medicine: Cerium-doped lutetium orthosilicate, known as LSO, is a scintillator used mainly for positron emission tomography. Research is being conducted with lutetium into possible uses for targeted radiotherapy for the development of new cancer therapies.
- Energy: Lutetium is used as a catalyst in petroleum refining, hydrogenation and polymerisation processes, and in organic light-emitting diodes. Lutetium, when exposed to neutron activation, is used as a pure beta emitter.