The Rare Earths As Possible Flame Color Agents

Barry T. Sturman

ABSTRACT: Colors observed when solutions of scandium, yttrium and the lanthanide elements were sprayed into an inductively coupled plasma are reported. It is suggested, but without experimental evidence, that the colors seen in the lower temperature regions of the plasma (and in a pre-mixed air-acetylene flame) might also be produced by appropriate pyrotechnic mixtures. The color-emitting species (metal monoxide molecules) are remarkably stable, as shown by the dissociation energies of the M-O bonds. These monoxides might be able to exist in useful concentrations at the high temperatures of the glitter flash reaction, thus providing colored glitter. The possibility of using yttrium or erbium, or corrosion resistant alloys thereof, to produce red or green sparks is also suggested.

Keywords: rare earth element, colored flame, colored glitter, colored spark

Ref: JPyro, Issue 9, 1999, pp57-61

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