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The neodymium element is found in nature only in small quantities. It is a silvery metal that quickly tarnishes in air and reacts rapidly with water, producing pink, purple/blue and yellow compounds in the +2, +3 and +4 oxidation states. It is a member of the lanthanide group, sharing its chemical properties with cerium, praseodymium and gadolinium. It is the most magnetic of all of the rare earth elements and is used to make some of the strongest permanent magnets known to man.
neodymium powder is very brittle and must be handled with great care to prevent breakage or chipping, particularly in machining applications. It is also a fire hazard, burning to carbon dioxide and liberating neodymium oxide under hot conditions. It should be stored away from ignition sources and oxidizers, and used in an environment with good ventilation.
Like all lanthanides, neodymium is toxic when exposed to air and may cause skin and eye irritation in sensitive individuals. It can be absorbed through the skin in high concentrations and is an extremely hazardous inhalant. Ingestion is unlikely to cause significant harm, but it should be avoided if possible.
neodymium powder is used in the manufacture of permanent magnets for a wide variety of industrial and consumer products. It has a very strong magnetic field and can be made into magnet assemblies with varying pole configurations and shapes. It is also useful in the formation of yttrium aluminum garnet (YAG) solid-state lasers due to its optimal absorption and emission wavelengths.