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Science Innovation Centre · 069 · Thulium

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Thulium is a lanthanide element, it has a bright silvery-grey lustre and can be cut by a knife. It is the least abundant of the rare earths and its metal is easy to work. It slowly tarnishes in air, but is more resistant to oxidation than most rare-earth elements. It also has some corrosion resistance in dry air and good ductility. Naturally occurring thulium is made entirely of the stable isotope Tm-169.

The pure metal and compound have few commercial uses: because it is very rare and expensive and has little to offer, thulium find little application outside chemical research. Thulium has been used to create lasers. When stable thulium (Tm-169) is bombarded in a nuclear reactor it can later serve as a radiation source in portable X-ray devices. It also has potential use in ceramic magnetic materials called ferrites, which are used in microwave equipment. Thulium-doped calcium sulphate has been used in personal radiation dosimeters because it can register, by its fluorescence, especially low levels.