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Techniques & Tools Capillary Electrophoresis, Environmental, Mass Spectrometry

A Rare Find

Cell phones, lighting, wind turbines, military equipment… many modern technologies rely on rare earth elements (REEs). Comprising the lanthanide series plus scandium and yttrium, REEs are widely distributed in nature, but the challenge is finding sources that contain potentially useful quantities. Neutron activation and inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) methods have been the chief means of tracking down the elusive elements – until now. Three chemists from St Petersburg State University in Russia have developed an alternative for detecting and analyzing REEs more quickly, more cheaply and with good sensitivity: capillary electrophoresis (CE; Capel-105, Lumex) with UV detection (UV mini-1240 spectrophotometer, Shimadzu) (1).

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About the Author

Joanna Cummings

A former library manager and storyteller, I have wanted to write for magazines since I was six years old, when I used to make my own out of foolscap paper and sellotape and distribute them to my family. Since getting my MSc in Publishing, I’ve worked as a freelance writer and content creator for both digital and print, writing on subjects such as fashion, food, tourism, photography – and the history of Roman toilets. Now I can be found working on The Analytical Scientist, finding the ‘human angle’ to cutting-edge science stories.

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