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Our (?) daily rare earths


The Rare Earths (RE), which have been a topic of research and of personal satisfaction for exact 50 years (ORQUIMA, 1961) are present in almost all activities of the everyday life. In this project, we present three of their most relevant applications that are part of the research topics developed at the Rare Earth Laboratory (LTR). First, this project aims at developing phosphors for avoiding the presence of Hg in illumination systems besides improving the plasma display panel phosphors. In this way, microwave heating in hydrothermal systems will be used to synthesize the desired nanomaterials. The applicability of the phosphors depends not only on their spectroscopic properties, but also on their physico-chemical stability. In this sense, the study of the thermal behaviour of the synthesized solids is also essential for the evaluation of their functionality as vacuum ultraviolet phosphors. On the other hand, experiments recently performed by our group have shown the efficiency of the CeO2 catalysts in soot oxidation. Our interest in improving this material has risen with the verification that part of the impregnated CeO2 resides inside the pores of the cordierite substract, thus being unaccessible to the soot. The limitation of this process may be the contact between the particulate material and the CeO2 sites, considering that part of this material has larger sizes than those of the support pores. Finally, cerium based materials present lower photocatalytic activities than those of Ti and Zn oxides which are currently utilized in sunscreens. Their high UV absorption makes them potential solar filters applicable on several areas. Thus, the development of adequate synthetic methodologies for the controlled obtainment of nanosized cerium phosphates and oxides is essential. (AU)

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