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A rare-earth metal, cerium is malleable and soft with a silvery grey color. It is a very reactive metal which tarnishes in air and dissolves readily in acids.
It is found in the minerals bastnaesite and monazite as well as in the fission products of uranium, plutonium and thorium. It is one of the seventeen rare-earth metals and is about as abundant as copper in Earth’s crust.
cerium metal is produced from ores that contain other rare earth elements and is most commonly isolated by treating the mineral ore with hydrochloric acid. It is then separated from the other metals through electrochemical reduction. It can also be obtained by thermally reducing cerium fluoride with calcium .
This metal has several important applications because of its unique properties, primarily as an optical enhancer and hardener for tungsten alloys. It is also used in metallurgy to improve the corrosion resistance of aluminum and magnesium and to reduce sulfur and oxygen content of steel.
It is an important component of aqueous slurries used for chemical-mechanical polishing of surfaces including silicon wafers for microelectronic devices and eyeglass lenses. It enables faster polishing than can be achieved by mechanical means alone.