It is well known that lanthanides are widely used in the most advanced technologies, for instance in production of metal hydride batteries, the strongest permanent magnets, automobile and oil cracking catalysts etc. .
Constantly increasing demands together with shortage of resources lead to extremely high prices for rare earths. For that reason trading of lanthanides is a very lucrative business bringing a lot of money to the sellers.
Interesting fact is that a company involved in trading with lanthanides always withdraws some amount of rare earths from the customer. âIt is a fraudâ – you probably would say. No, it has nothing to do with a fraud. The reason is that some bank notes, euro for instance , contain small quantities of rare earths in a form of security inks. Therefore paying bills for lanthanide sources in cash the buyer voluntarily gives away a âstashâ of these elements.
Fig. 1 â Euro banknotes
Â Modern bank notes have several security features: watermark, hologram, glossy stripe, perforations, security inks etc. . The security inks are based on luminescent compounds that are well known in the field of document security for protection of valued papers. Such compounds are known to include for example europium, terbium, ytterbium, thulium or erbium doped materials .
Taking into account aforementioned information one can firmly declare that rare earths help make money in all senses.
It should be mentioned here that the application of lanthanides as components of security inks in bank notes was not always used in the struggle against counterfeiting. The former East German secret police â Stasi â used radioactive isotope of Scandium (Sc-46) to mark bank notes and documents in order to track targeted dissidents . Luckily this dark side of lanthanide history came to past forever and now rare earths are used only for sustainable development.
1. S. Massari, M. Ruberti. Rare earth elements as critical raw materials: focus on international markets and future strategies / Resources Policy, 38, 2013. 36-43.
2. http://www.chemheritage.org/discover/online-resources/thanks-to-chemistry/ttc_communication_counterfeiting.aspx, http://pubs.acs.org/cen/80th/print/lanthanides.html, http://www.rsc.org/chemistryworld/podcast/interactive_periodic_table_transcripts/terbium.asp
4. K. Binnemans, C. GĂ¶rller-Walrand, P. W. Nockermann, R. Van Deun. UK Patent Application GB 2410946 A. 2005; T.K. Anh, D.X. Loc, T.T. Huong et al. Luminescent nanomaterials containing rare earth ions for security printing / Int. J. Nanotechnol., Vol. 8, Nos. 3/4/5, 2011.