2007 Schools Wikipedia Selection. Related subjects: Chemical elements

58 lanthanumceriumpraseodymium


Periodic Table - Extended Periodic Table
Name, Symbol, Number cerium, Ce, 58
Chemical series lanthanides
Group, Period, Block n/a, 6, f
Appearance silvery white
Atomic mass 140.116 (1) g/mol
Electron configuration [Xe] 4f1 5d1 6s2
Electrons per shell 2, 8, 18, 19, 9, 2
Physical properties
Phase solid
Density (near r.t.) 6.770 g·cm−3
Liquid density at m.p. 6.55 g·cm−3
Melting point 1068  K
(795 ° C, 1463 ° F)
Boiling point 3716 K
(3443 ° C, 6229 ° F)
Heat of fusion 5.46 kJ·mol−1
Heat of vaporization 398 kJ·mol−1
Heat capacity (25 °C) 26.94 J·mol−1·K−1
Vapor pressure
P/Pa 1 10 100 1 k 10 k 100 k
at T/K 1992 2194 2442 2754 3159 3705
Atomic properties
Crystal structure cubic face centered
Oxidation states 3, 4
(mildly basic oxide)
Electronegativity 1.12 (Pauling scale)
Ionization energies
( more)
1st: 534.4 kJ·mol−1
2nd: 1050 kJ·mol−1
3rd: 1949 kJ·mol−1
Atomic radius 185 pm
Magnetic ordering no data
Electrical resistivity ( r.t.) (β, poly) 828 nΩ·m
Thermal conductivity (300 K) 11.3 W·m−1·K−1
Thermal expansion ( r.t.) (γ, poly)
6.3 µm/(m·K)
Speed of sound (thin rod) (20 °C) 2100 m/s
Young's modulus (γ form) 33.6 GPa
Shear modulus (γ form) 13.5 GPa
Bulk modulus (γ form) 21.5 GPa
Poisson ratio (γ form) 0.24
Mohs hardness 2.5
Vickers hardness 270 MPa
Brinell hardness 412 MPa
CAS registry number 7440-45-1
Selected isotopes
Main article: Isotopes of cerium
iso NA half-life DM DE ( MeV) DP
134Ce syn 3.16 days ε 0.500 134La
136Ce 0.19% Ce is stable with 78 neutrons
138Ce 0.25% Ce is stable with 80 neutrons
139Ce syn 137.640 days ε 0.278 139La
140Ce 88.48% Ce is stable with 82 neutrons
141Ce syn 32.501 days β- 0.581 141Pr
142Ce 11.08% > 5×1016 years β- unknown 142Nd
144Ce syn 284.893 days β- 0.319 144Pr

Cerium ( IPA: /ˈsiːriəm, ˈsɪəriəm/) is a chemical element in the periodic table that has the symbol Ce and atomic number 58.

Notable characteristics

Cerium is a silvery metallic element, belonging to the lanthanide group. It is used in some rare-earth alloys. It resembles iron in colour and luster, but is soft, and both malleable and ductile. It tarnishes readily in the air. Only europium is more reactive than cerium among rare earth elements. Alkali solutions and dilute and concentrated acids attack the metal rapidly. The pure metal is likely to ignite if scratched with a knife. Cerium oxidizes slowly in cold water and rapidly in hot water.

Although cerium belongs to chemical elements group called rare earth metals, it is not rare at all. Cerium is available in relatively large quantities (68 ppm in Earth’s crust); in fact it is more common than Lead.

Cerium in the +3 oxidation state is referred to as cerous, while the metal in the +4 oxidation state is called ceric.

Cerium(IV) salts are orange red or yellowish, whereas cerium(III) salts are usually white.


Uses of cerium:

  • In metallurgy:
    • Cerium is used in making aluminium alloys.
    • Adding cerium to cast irons opposes graphitization and produces a malleable iron.
    • In steels, cerium degasifies and can help reduce sulfides and oxides.
    • Cerium is used in stainless steel as a precipitation hardening agent.
    • 3 to 4% cerium added to magnesium alloys, along with 0.2 to 0.6% zirconium, helps refine the grain and give sound casting of complex shapes. It also adds heat resistance to magnesium castings.
    • Cerium is used in alloys that are used to make permanent magnets.
    • Cerium is used as an alloying element in tungsten electrodes for gas tungsten arc welding.
    • Cerium is a major component of ferrocerium, also known as " lighter flint". Although modern alloys of this type generally use Mischmetal rather than purified cerium, it still is the most prevalent constituent.
    • Cerium is used in carbon-arc lighting, especially in the motion picture industry.
  • Cerium(IV) oxide
    • The oxide is used in incandescent gas mantles, such as the Welsbach mantle, where it was combined with Thorium, Lanthanum, Magnesium or Yttrium oxides .
    • The oxide is emerging as a hydrocarbon catalyst in self cleaning ovens, incorporated into oven walls.
    • Cerium(IV) oxide has largely replaced Rouge in the glass industry as a polishing abrasive.
    • Cerium(IV) oxide is finding use as a petroleum cracking catalyst in petroleum refining.
    • In glass, cerium(IV) oxide allows for selective absorption of ultraviolet light.
  • Cerium(IV) sulfate is used extensively as a volumetric oxidizing agent in quantitative analysis.
  • Cerium compounds are used in the manufacture of glass, both as a component and as a decolorizer.
  • Cerium compounds are used for the coloring of enamel.
  • Cerium(III) and cerium(IV) compounds such as cerium(III) chloride have uses as catalysts in organic synthesis.


Cerium was discovered in Sweden by Jöns Jakob Berzelius and Wilhelm von Hisinger, and independently in Germany by Martin Heinrich Klaproth, both in 1803. Cerium was so named by Berzelius after the asteroid Ceres, discovered two years earlier ( 1801).


Cerium is the most abundant of the rare earth elements, making up about 0.0046% of the Earth's crust by weight. It is found in a number of minerals including allanite (also known as orthite)—(Ca, Ce, La, Y)2(Al, Fe)3(SiO4)3(OH), monazite (Ce, La, Th, Nd, Y)PO4, bastnasite(Ce, La, Y)CO3F, hydroxylbastnasite (Ce, La, Nd)CO3(OH, F), rhabdophane (Ce, La, Nd)PO4-H2O, zircon (ZrSiO4), and synchysite Ca(Ce, La, Nd, Y)(CO3)2F. Monazite and bastnasite are presently the two most important sources of cerium.

Cerium is most often prepared via an ion exchange process that uses monazite sands as its cerium source.

Large deposits of monazite, allanite, and bastnasite will supply cerium, thorium, and other rare-earth metals for many years to come.

See also Category:Lanthanide minerals h



Cerium has two common oxidation states, +3 and +4. The most common compound of cerium is cerium(IV) oxide (CeO2), which is used as "jeweller's rouge" as well as in the walls of some self-cleaning ovens. Two common oxidising agents used in titrations are ammonium cerium(IV) sulfate (ceric ammonium sulfate, (NH4)2Ce(SO4)3) and ammonium cerium(IV) nitrate (ceric ammonium nitrate or CAN, (NH4)2Ce(NO3)6). Cerium also forms a chloride, CeCl3 or cerium(III) chloride, used to facilitate reactions at carbonyl groups in organic chemistry. Other compounds include cerium(III) carbonate (Ce2(CO3)3), cerium(III) fluoride (CeF3), cerium(III) oxide (Ce2O3), as well as cerium(IV) sulfate (ceric sulfate, Ce(SO4)2) and cerium(III) triflate (Ce(OSO2CF3)3).

See also Category:Cerium compounds


Naturally occurring cerium is composed of 3 stable isotopes and 1 radioactive isotope; 136Ce, 138Ce, 140Ce, and 142Ce with 140Ce being the most abundant (88.48% natural abundance). 27 radioisotopes have been characterized with the most {abundant and/or stable} being 142Ce with a half-life of greater than 5×1016 years, 144Ce with a half-life of 284.893 days, 139Ce with a half-life of 137.640 days, and 141Ce with a half-life of 32.501 days. All of the remaining radioactive isotopes have half-lives that are less than 4 days and the majority of these have half-lives that are less than 10 minutes. This element also has 2 meta states.

The isotopes of cerium range in atomic weight from 123 u (123Ce) to 152 u (152Ce).


Cerium, like all rare earth metals, is of low to moderate toxicity. Cerium is a strong reducing agent and ignites spontaneously in air at 65 to 80 °C. Fumes from cerium fires are toxic. Water should not be used to stop cerium fires, as cerium reacts with water to produce hydrogen gas. Workers exposed to cerium have experienced itching, sensitivity to heat, and skin lesions. Animals injected with large doses of cerium have died due to cardiovascular collapse.

Cerium(IV) oxide is a powerful oxidizing agent at high temperatures and will react with combustible organic materials. While cerium is not radioactive, the impure commercial grade may contain traces of thorium, which is radioactive. Cerium serves no known biological function.

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