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Cerium-Discovery, Properties, And Applications

October 15, 2023
written by Adeel Abbas

Cerium is a chemical element with the symbol Ce and atomic number 58. It is a soft, silvery, ductile metal that easily oxidizes in air. Cerium is the most abundant of the rare earth elements and is found in many minerals, including allanite, bastnasite, hydroxyl bastnasite, monazite, rhabdophane, synchysite, and xenotime.

image of cerium
Atomic number58
Relative atomic mass (Ar)140.116 g
Standard stateSolid at 298 K
AppearanceSilvery white
Period in the periodic table
Group nameLanthanoid
Block in the periodic table6 (lanthanoid)
Block in periodic tablef
Shell structure2.
CAS Registry7440-45-1


Cerium was discovered in 1803 by the Swedish chemist Jöns Jakob Berzelius and his colleague Wilhelm Hisinger, and independently by the German chemist Martin Heinrich Klaproth. Berzelius and Hisinger found cerium in a sample of a mineral from the Falun copper mine in Sweden, while Klaproth discovered it in a sample of a different mineral from the Hrbek mine in the Czech Republic.

Physical Properties

Cerium is a soft, silvery, ductile metal that easily oxidizes in air. It has a melting point of 795 °C and a boiling point of 3443 °C. It has a density of 6.770 g/cm³ at room temperature and is paramagnetic at temperatures above 14 K.

Chemical Properties

Cerium is a member of the rare earth elements and is chemically similar to lanthanum. It is a reactive metal and readily reacts with water to produce hydrogen gas. Cerium metal tarnishes slowly in air and burns readily at elevated temperatures to form cerium(IV) oxide, CeO2. Cerium is a strong reducing agent and is used to remove oxygen from other elements and compounds.


  • Cerium is named after the asteroid Ceres, which was discovered two years before cerium.
  • Cerium is used in the production of self-cleaning ovens, as it helps to break down food particles and other organic substances.
  • Cerium is also used in catalytic converters to reduce emissions from cars and trucks.
  • Cerium has four stable isotopes and seven radioactive isotopes.


Cerium has a number of applications in industry, including:

  • Glassmaking: Cerium oxide is added to glass to improve its resistance to breakage and scratching.
  • Petroleum refining: Cerium is used as a catalyst in the refining of crude oil.
  • Lighting: Cerium is used in the manufacture of incandescent lamps to improve their efficiency and brightness.
  • Nuclear technology: Cerium is used in the nuclear industry as a fuel and a moderator.

Cerium is an important element with many applications in industry. Its unique properties make it useful in a variety of different fields, from glassmaking to petroleum refining to nuclear technology.