what do cathode ray tubes, "Blue John" and moon rocks have in common?This week, we meet the rare earths element, europium, which has the atomic number 63 and the symbol Eu. Europium is a silvery-coloured element that is ductile. It also is highly reactive since its outer (valence) electron shell is half-filled, so this metal typically loses three electrons, adopting the +3 oxidation state (although you can also find it in the +2 oxidation state). Due to its high reactivity, europium is not found as a pure element in nature. Europium is a wonderful element if you enjoy brilliant colours. In its typical trivalent (Eu3+) state, europium emits a brilliant red light when illuminated, which led to its use in cathode ray tubes (CRT) in television screens so we could enjoy the red uniforms that our favourite sports teams wear. In its divalent (Eu2+) state, europium emits blue light when...
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