The Young Minds Section of Catania, Italy, had the pleasure to invite Prof. Andries Meijerink, from Utrecht University, for a seminar on rare earths. He has contributed significantly to the development of this field through his research and publications. Rare earths are also called Lanthanides, derived from the Greek word “λανθανειν” (to lie hidden). This group of elements, hidden at the bottom of the periodic table, remains scarce as China decided to limit the export of these elements.
Rare earths are not well known. However, the unique chemical, magnetic and optical properties give them an important role in developing sustainable energy, e.g. windmills, hybrid cars, batteries, catalysts and lighting. Prof. Meijerink’s research has explored their in lighting and spectral conversion for solar cells. Rare earths play a key role in energy efficient lighting and are applied as efficient light emitters in almost all artificial light sources, including fluorescent tubes, displays and white light LEDs.
The seminar was followed by a tour of the research laboratories of solid state physics and photonics sited in the Physics Department of the University of Catania. This day long event involved several students and researchers, with the active participation of all the members of the local Young Minds Section.