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Interesting Facts About Samarium

Updated on October 5, 2012

Sesquioxidizing Samarium Scores Points

photo via home_of_chaos - Flickr
photo via home_of_chaos - Flickr

IR Absorbing Windshields

This 6th of the not-so-rare earth elements is Samarium (Sm) with the atomic number 62 as layed out in the periodic table of elements. Samarium is a silvery metal with a medium hardness that has a broad range of uses many of which are similar to the other rare earth metals. Samarium oxide Sm2O3 is one of the more useful chemical compounds that contains the element Samarium. Any oxide containing 3 Oxygen atoms and 2 of another element is known in chemistry as a sesquioxide. So, besides knowing the beneficial applications that Samarium Sesquioxide has in industry, it is also good trivia knowledge to know that sesquioxidizing is the highest scoring word possible in the word tile game of Scrabble. 2044 points can be scored with the word sesquioxidizing. Outside of Scrabble, the oxide form has found its way into many glass products, glass inserts, and lexan derivatives. The unique properties of the Samarium additive make it great at absorbing IR rays, and for that reason it is used in many infrared absorbing glass products: car and truck windshields, aircraft and jet fighter planes, and other optical films and combinations. Nanotechnology applications are emerging where samarium oxide nanopowders or solutions can be implemented into products to make use of the infrared absorbing properties and neutron blocking capabilities.

Infrared heat absorbing glass is a product that initially was only found in high-end or government/military aircraft and luxury automobiles. It is becoming a more common feature on many cars and trucks, although on many models it still remains limited to the more expensive trim lines. Sunlight reaches the Earth's surface in what can be classified as 3 different ranges of spectrum. There is ultraviolet which has a frequency higher than the upper frequency limit to the naked human eye and as such is invisible to humans. There is visible light that we all know by the colors of the rainbow, and then there is infrared which is also invisible to humans because of it being below the lower visible limit. Both infrared and ultraviolet can be broken down into further electromagnetic radiation classes A, B and C. There is a subset of window tints and films that is capable of blocking infrared solar heat from the sun, and these are used in many aftermarket vehicle applications as well as on buildings. However, many of these do not use the physics of samarium oxide to accomplish the task. In fact, it is the infrared portion of sunlight that is most responsible for the heating effects notice here on Earth. The ability to block the IR spectrum can have a significant impact on the creature comfort of the interior spaces. Some studies say that IR heat absorbing glass can lower the interior temperature by as much as 10 degrees Fahrenheit. This allows for less power consumption by the vehicle climate controls and air conditioning system. Subsequently, a driver may find that the use of a truck with infrared absorbing heat glass can result in better gas mileage as compared to one without. As it stands, there are quite a few ways to create a solar infrared blocking interlayer or glass film. Samarium has found more frequent use in optics and optical filters where different samarium-doped glass components can produce the effect desired. Pilkington's Siglasol product is a solar ir heat blocking glazing that can be used on automobiles to keep things comfortable. Siglasol sandwiches an IR reflecting layer in between two glass sides in order to deflect solar rays. At first glance, one might not realize the incredible array of choices that there are when it comes to glass, films, and coatings. Thermal comfort can be as important as visual comfort and other factors such as safety play into the equation as well.


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    • wandererh profile image

      David Lim 5 years ago from Singapore

      My aunt was asking me to look for some kind of solar film for her windows so that her room doesn't get so hot. Now I know what to look for, only hope that it's available. :)