13 May 2019

Erbium - through rose-tinted glasses

From Elemental, 8:00 am on 13 May 2019

The chemical element erbium is one of eight lanthanoid elements discovered in a single mine in the small Swedish village of Ytterby.

Four of those elements took their name from various combinations of letters of the name Ytterby: erbium, ytterbium, yttrium and terbium.

It is used in welder’s glasses to absorb the intense infrared light given off during welding, and erbium oxide provides the colour pink in coloured glass and spectacles.

Erbium is important in optical fibres, acting to amplify light as it passes along the cable.

Professor Allan Blackman from AUT says erbium is also used in lasers for skin resurfacing.

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Photo: RNZ

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The Elemental podcast is celebrating 150 years since the periodic table was first published by Russian chemist Dmitri Mendeleev.

Find out more about events during the United Nation’s International Year of the Periodic Table.

Nights with Bryan Crump is also celebrating the chemical elements during their Friday night Sonic Tonic and Element of the Week.

Professor Allan Blackman is at Auckland University of Technology.