Electronic devices are made possible thanks to a group of elements often referred to as rare-Earth metals, but as the name suggests, these may be in limited supply and are relatively expensive. Now, a team of scientists has found a way to combine much more common elements into electronically-useful compounds, which could find their way into tunable lighting and solar panels.
It takes all sorts of precious minerals to build electronic devices as smart as the ones we use everyday. Unfortunately many of these elements are quite hard to find and mine, making them expensive and prone to becoming even scarcer in the not-too-distant future.
“We’re in danger of running out of some of those elements because they’re not easy to recycle and they’re in limited supply,” says Roy Clarke, an author of the study. “It’s not viable for technology to rely on something that’s likely to run out on a scale of 10 to 20 years.”