Erbium (Chemical Elements)
Erbium is one of 14 rare earth elements with atomic numbers 58 through 71 in Row 6 of the periodic table. The periodic table is a chart that shows how chemical elements are related to each other. Rare earth is a misleading category because these elements are not especially rare in the Earth's crust. Rare earth metals were rarely used because the 15 elements were difficult to separate from each other.
Today, the rare earth elements can be separated easily, and they can be bought at a reasonable cost. Two common uses of erbium today are in lasers and special kinds of optical fibers. Optical fibers are glass-like materials used to carry telephone messages.
The correct chemical name for the rare earth elements is the lanthanides, which comes from the first element in the sixth row of the periodic table, lanthanum.
(The entire section is 1103 words.)
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