Samarium was first observed by a Swiss chemist by the name of Jean Charles Galissard de Marignac, using spectroscopic methods, in 1853. A French chemist by the name of Paul-Émile Lecoq de Boisbaudran, was the first chemist to isolate Samarium from the mineral samarskite, in 1879. In modern day processes, Samarium is extracted and purified through an ion exchange process from monazite sand, which is a material rich in rare earth elements that can contains up to 2.8% Samarium. The primary use of Samarium is in the production of super magnets, where Samarium forms a compound with cobalt (SmCo5) which is a powerful permanent magnet with the highest resistance to demagnetization of any material known. In compound form, Samarium oxide (Sm2O3) is added to glass to absorb infrared radiation and this material also acts as a catalyst for the dehydration and dehydrogenation of ethanol (C2H6O).
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