/sear"ee euhm/, n.
a steel-gray, ductile metallic element of the rare-earth group found only in combination. Symbol: Ce; at. wt.: 140.12; at. no.: 58.
[1795-1805; CER(ES) + -IUM]

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Chemical element, a rare earth metal of the lanthanide series (hence having many properties of the transition elements), chemical symbol Ce, atomic number 58.

It is iron-gray and fairly soft and ductile. Found in many ores, it is about as abundant as copper and three times as abundant as lead. The metal is used in alloys and other metallurgical applications and (because it oxidizes strongly and rapidly) in illumination, ignition, and signaling devices and in propellants. Misch metal, used in lighter flints, is 50% cerium. Cerium compounds (in which it has valence 3 or 4) are used in the mantles of lanterns, in the ceramic, photographic, and textile industries, and in analytical chemistry.

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 (Ce), chemical element, most abundant of the rare-earth metals of the lanthanoid series of the periodic table. Cerium is iron gray in colour and about as soft and ductile as tin. It oxidizes slowly in air, rapidly reacts with water to yield hydrogen, and burns brilliantly when heated. Cerium as the oxide (ceria) was discovered (1803) by Jöns Jacob Berzelius and Wilhelm Hisinger working together, and independently by Martin Klaproth. It was named after the asteroid Ceres, which was discovered in 1801. Ceria, the second rare earth to be discovered (yttria was first), turned out to be a mixture of oxides from which seven elements were separated during the course of the next century. These other elements were the lighter rare-earth metals, from lanthanum (atomic number 57) to gadolinium (atomic number 64), with the exception of promethium. Cerium occurs in monazite, bastnaesite, and many other minerals. It also is found among the fission products of uranium, plutonium, and thorium. Cerium is about as abundant as copper and nearly three times as abundant as lead in the igneous rocks of Earth's crust. Four stable isotopes occur in nature: cerium-140 (88.48 percent), cerium-142 (11.07 percent), cerium-138 (0.250 percent), and cerium-136 (0.193 percent). The metal itself is prepared by electrolysis of the anhydrous fused halides or by thermoreduction of the halides with alkali or alkaline-earth metals. It exists in four allotropic (structural) forms.

      Cerium and its compounds have a number of practical applications. The dioxide is employed in the optics industry for fine polishing of glass (replacing rouge); it is also used as an opacifier in porcelain coatings and as a decolorizer in glass manufacturing. Cerium nitrate has been used in the manufacture of incandescent-gas mantles; other salts are employed in the ceramic, photographic, and textile industries. The metal serves as an ingredient in the carbon-impregnated arc lamps that have been used for illumination in the motion-picture, television, and related industries. Together with the other rare-earth metals, cerium is a constituent of numerous ferrous and nonferrous alloys; a superior high-temperature alloy for jet engines contains about 3 percent cerium with magnesium. Misch metal (50 percent cerium) is used for cigarette-lighter flints, in tracer bullets, and in electron-tube manufacture as a getter, which removes traces of oxygen.

      Along with praseodymium and terbium, cerium is different from the other rare earths in that it forms compounds in which its oxidation state is +4; it is the only rare earth that exhibits a +4 oxidation state in solution. Salts of the Ce4+ ion (ceric salts), which are powerful but stable oxidizing agents, are used in analytical chemistry to determine oxidizable substances such as ferrous iron (iron in the +2 oxidation state). Most Ce4+ salts are orange to yellow in colour, as are solutions containing the Ce4+ ion. Cerium in its +3 oxidation state behaves as a typical rare earth; its compounds are usually white.

atomic number
atomic weight
melting point
798° C
boiling point
3,257° C
specific gravity
6.771 (25° C)
oxidation states
+3, +4
electronic config.

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • cérium — [ serjɔm ] n. m. • 1803; de Cérès ♦ Chim. Élément chimique (Ce; no at. 58; m. at. 140,1), métal du groupe des lanthanides. Oxyde de cérium. ● cérium nom masculin (de Cérès, nom propre) Métal du groupe des lanthanides. (Élément chimique de symbole …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Cerium — Cérium Cérium Lanthane ← …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Cérium — Lanthane ← Cérium → Praséodyme …   Wikipédia en Français

  • cerium — ► NOUN ▪ a silvery white metallic chemical element, the most abundant of the lanthanide series. ORIGIN named after the asteroid Ceres, discovered in 1801, shortly before cerium was identified …   English terms dictionary

  • Cerium — Ce ri*um, n. [Named by Berzelius in 1803 from the asteroid Ceres, then just discovered (1801).] (Chem.) A rare metallic element, occurring in the minerals cerite, allanite, monazite, etc. Symbol Ce. Atomic weight 141.5. It resembles iron in color …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Cerĭum — (eigentlich Cererium, Chem.), 1) C. zuerst von Vauquelin, dann von Mosander, Klapproth, Berzelius etc. entdecktes Metall. Es findet sich, wiewohl selten, im Verein mit den beiden Metallen Lanthan u. Didym (s.d.) als Oxyd u. Oxydul im Cerit,… …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Cerĭum — Cerĭum, s. Cer …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • Cerium — Cerĭum, Metall, s. Cer …   Kleines Konversations-Lexikon

  • Cerium — Cerium, ein Erdmetall, welches sich als Oxydul in mehreren seltenen Mineralien, wie im Cerit, Allanit, Orphit u.s.w. findet, und durch Zersetzung des Chlorceriums mit Kalium als ein graues, metallglänzendes Pulver erhalten wird …   Herders Conversations-Lexikon

  • cerium — Symbol: Ce Atomic number: 58 Atomic weight: 140.12 Silvery metallic element, belongs to the lanthanoids. Four natural isotopes exist, and fifteen radioactive isotopes have been identified. Used in some rare earth alloys. The oxidized form is used …   Elements of periodic system

  • cerium — element, first isolated in pure form in 1875, named for ceria, name of the earth from which it was taken, which was discovered in 1803 and named for Ceres, the minor planet, which had been discovered in 1801 and named for the Roman goddess CERES… …   Etymology dictionary

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