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What rare earth metal is commonly used in household smoke detectors?

Question #120732. Asked by CliftonClowers.
Last updated Sep 14 2021.

markklein199
Answer has 2 votes
markklein199
21 year member
57 replies

Answer has 2 votes.

Response last updated by satguru on Sep 14 2021.
Nov 28 2003, 8:22 AM
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looney_tunes star
Answer has 3 votes
Currently Best Answer
looney_tunes star
Moderator
19 year member
3293 replies avatar

Answer has 3 votes.

Currently voted the best answer.
Americium, specifically the isotope Am-241.

link https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Americium#Ionization_detectors

Mar 16 2011, 10:30 PM
davejacobs
Answer has 1 vote
davejacobs
22 year member
956 replies

Answer has 1 vote.
link https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rare_earth_element
This site lists all seventeen rare earth elements, but Americium is not one of them. Nor is a smoke detector listed as an application of any of them. Rare earth elements or rare earth metals are a collection of seventeen chemical elements in the periodic table, specifically the fifteen lanthanoids plus scandium and yttrium.

Mar 17 2011, 1:36 AM
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looney_tunes star
Answer has 3 votes
looney_tunes star
Moderator
19 year member
3293 replies avatar

Answer has 3 votes.
From the site linked above:

"The name americium (after the Americas) and the symbol Am are suggested for the element on the basis of its position as the sixth member of the actinide rare-earth series, analogous to europium, Eu, of the lanthanide series."

None of the proper rare earth elements are used in smoke detectors, so this tangential definition gives the best answer I could find to the question, which may have been based on slightly erroneous information.


Mar 17 2011, 2:11 AM
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CliftonClowers star
Answer has 0 votes
CliftonClowers star
14 year member
71 replies avatar

Answer has 0 votes.
You are both correct. Americium is the element I had in mind when I composed the question and it is of course not a rare earth metal but a transuranic metal.

This is what you get when you let an old organic chemist with a faulty memory compose questions about the bottom of the periodic table.

Mar 22 2011, 10:19 AM
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