Science, Tech, Math › Science Rare Earth Elements List Elements in the Rare Earth Element Group Share Flipboard Email Print The rare earth elements are metals located in the first row below the main body of the periodic table. DAVID MACK / Getty Images Science Chemistry Periodic Table Basics Chemical Laws Molecules Projects & Experiments Scientific Method Biochemistry Physical Chemistry Medical Chemistry Chemistry In Everyday Life Famous Chemists Activities for Kids Abbreviations & Acronyms Biology Physics Geology Astronomy Weather & Climate By Anne Marie Helmenstine, Ph.D. Chemistry Expert Ph.D., Biomedical Sciences, University of Tennessee at Knoxville B.A., Physics and Mathematics, Hastings College Dr. Helmenstine holds a Ph.D. in biomedical sciences and is a science writer, educator, and consultant. She has taught science courses at the high school, college, and graduate levels. our editorial process Facebook Facebook Twitter Twitter Anne Marie Helmenstine, Ph.D. Updated May 02, 2019 This is a list of rare earth elements (REEs), which are a special group of metals. Key Takeaways: List of Rare Earth Elements The rare earth elements (REEs) or rare earth metals (REMs) are a group of metals found within the same ores and possessing similar chemical properties.Scientists and engineers disagree on exactly which element should be included in a list of the rare earths, but they generally include the fifteen lanthanide elements, plus scandium and yttrium.Despite their name, the rare earths aren't actually rare with respect to abundance in the Earth's crust. The exception is promethium, a radioactive metal. The CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics and IUPAC list the rare earths as consisting of the lanthanides, plus scandium and yttrium. This includes atomic number 57 through 71, as well as 39 (yttrium) and 21 (scandium): Lanthanum (sometimes considered a transition metal)CeriumPraseodymiumNeodymiumPromethiumSamariumEuropiumGadoliniumTerbiumDysprosiumHolmiumErbiumThuliumYtterbiumLutetiumScandiumYttrium Other sources consider the rare earths to be the lanthanides and actinides: Lanthanum (sometimes considered a transition metal)CeriumPraseodymiumNeodymiumPromethiumSamariumEuropiumGadoliniumTerbiumDysprosiumHolmiumErbiumThuliumYtterbiumLutetiumActinium (sometimes considered a transition metal)ThoriumProtactiniumUraniumNeptuniumPlutoniumAmericiumCuriumBerkeliumCaliforniumEinsteiniumFermiumMendeleviumNobeliumLawrencium Classification of Rare Earths The classification of the rare earth elements is as hotly disputed as the list of included metals. One common method of classification is by atomic weight. Low atomic weight elements are the light rare earth elements (LREEs). Elements with high atomic weight are the heavy rare earth elements (HREEs). Elements that fall between the two extremes are the middle rare earth elements (MREEs). One popular system categorizes atomic numbers up to 61 as LREEs and those higher than 62 as HREEs (with the middle range absent or up to interpretation). Summary of Abbreviations Several abbreviations are used in connection with the rare earth elements: RE: rare earthREE: rare earth elementREM: rare earth metalREO: rare earth oxideREY: rare earth element and yttriumLREE: light rare earth elementsMREE: middle rare earth elementsHREE: heavy rare earth elements Rare Earth Uses In general, the rare earths are used in alloys, for their special optical properties, and in electronics. Some specific uses of elements include: Scandium: Use to make light alloys for the aerospace industry, as a radioactive tracer, and in lampsYttrium: Used in yttrium aluminum garnet (YAG) lasers, as a red phosphor, in superconductors, in fluorescent tubes, in LEDs, and as a cancer treatmentLanthanum: Use to make high refractive index glass, camera lenses, and catalystsCerium: Use to impart a yellow color to glass, as a catalyst, as a polishing powder, and to make flintsPraseodymium: Used in lasers, arc lighting, magnets, flint steel, and as a glass colorantNeodymium: Used to impart violet color to glass and ceramics, in lasers, magnets, capacitors, and electric motorsPromethium: Used in luminous paint and nuclear batteriesSamarium: Used in lasers, rare earth magnets, masers, nuclear reactor control rodsEuropium: Used to prepare red and blue phosphors, in lasers, in fluorescent lamps, and as an NMR relaxantGadolinium: Used in lasers, x-ray tubes, computer memory, high refractive index glass, NMR relaxation, neutron capture, MRI contrastTerbium: Use in green phosphors, magnets, lasers, fluorescent lamps, magnetostrictive alloys, and sonar systemsDysprosium: Used in hard drive disks, magnetostrictive alloys, lasers, and magnetsHolmium: Use in lasers, magnets, and calibration of spectrophotometersErbium: Used in vanadium steel, infrared lasers, and fiber opticsThulium: Used in lasers, metal halide lamps, and portable x-ray machinesYtterbium: Used in infrared lasers, stainless steel, and nuclear medicineLutetium: Used in positron emission tomography (PET) scans, high refractive index glass, catalysts, and LEDs Sources Brownlow, Arthur H. (1996). Geochemistry. Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Prentice Hall. ISBN 978-0133982725.Connelly, N. G. and T. Damhus, ed. (2005). Nomenclature of Inorganic Chemistry: IUPAC Recommendations 2005. With R. M. Hartshorn and A. T. Hutton. Cambridge: RSC Publishing. ISBN 978-0-85404-438-2.Hammond, C. R. (2009). "Section 4; The Elements". In David R. Lide (ed.). CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics, 89th ed. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press/Taylor and Francis.Jébrak, Michel; Marcoux, Eric; Laithier, Michelle; Skipwith, Patrick (2014). Geology of mineral resources (2nd ed.). St. John's, NL: Geological Association of Canada. ISBN 9781897095737.Ullmann, Fritz, ed. (2003). Ullmann's Encyclopedia of Industrial Chemistry. 31. Contributor: Matthias Bohnet (6th ed.). Wiley-VCH. p. 24. ISBN 978-3-527-30385-4.