Researchers use rare earth metals in alloy powders to produce eye-catching green sparks

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Graphic abstract. attributed to him: Omega AC (2022). DOI: 10.1021 / acsomega.2c03081

Sparkling lights can be a lot of fun – they flicker, flicker, and emit arcs of light from ground-mounted sticks or tubes. But metals are usually manufactured with reduced sparks form. Now, researchers at Omega AC It has been reported that rare earth metals in alloying powders can produce flashes that turn from golden to green and branch out continuously.

All over the world, sparklers are brought for holidays and special occasions, providing festive lights of light. While the flames could span the colors of the rainbow, the glows emitted were limited to dark red, golden, or bright white light.

Recently, Eike Hübner and colleagues found that burning powdered erbium (Er), a rare earth metal, produces a new, color-changing spark, which turns from golden white to bright green. However, the green phase just happened to flash in time and wasn’t really noticeable.

Another entertaining aspect of sparkling fountains is their branching sparks that repeatedly explode into multiple smaller, twinkling particles. Commercial spark tools typically contain iron and carbon powders for this effect, but metal and metal alloys can also do this. Therefore, Hubner and the team wanted to test whether Earth is rare Metal Alloy Metal They can be used to create entirely new types of variable or branching sparks.

The researchers pressed monometallic powders and metal alloy powders containing alkali, transitions, and rare earth metals, one by one to the flame. Rare earth alloys provided more colorful sparks than single metal powders. For example, ytterbium produced highly explosive green flashes. But when the alloy of ytterbium-copper (Yb-Cu) was burned, it continuously fired a barrage of long sparks that turned from golden to dark green.

The researchers then combined rare earth metal alloys with ammonium perchlorate and a nitrocellulose-based propellant to create smokeless fountains. A powdered version of the neodymium magnet created the most attractive fountain with continuously branching sparks, with each “master spark” releasing many more sparks in just a split second. These tests yielded two promising shiny substances, although the researchers cautioned that the recipes must undergo further safety testing before they can be used in commercial products.

more information:
Philip Memel et al., Customizing the appearance of sparks using bimetallic alloys, Omega AC (2022). DOI: 10.1021 / acsomega.2c03081

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