Discovered in 1879, Samarium is a member of the rare-earth series of metals, and is also a member of the lanthanide series. It has a silver luster that is not significantly tarnished under normal room conditions. It can be ignited in air at 150oC.

Commercial-grade samarium is obtained from monazite sand, which is a mixture of phosphates of the rare-earths (i.e. 50% rare-earth by weight and 2.8 % samarium). Among the rare-earths, samarium is the fifth most abundant. Its commercial applications are in high-technology industries such as electronic and ceramics industries. It is easily magnetized, and no other material is more difficult to demagnetize. This property suggests important applications in solid-state and superconductor technologies.

Samarium also has a high neutron absorption capacity. Its compounds have specialized uses in glass, phosphors, lasers, and thermoelectric devices. Calcium chloride crystals treated with samarium have been employed in lasers which produce beams of light intense enough to burn metal or bounce off the moon.

BCIT Chemistry Resource Center
http://nobel.scas.bcit.ca/resource/