Rare Earth Element Mass Analyzer

Technology Partner: Physical Optics CorporationAward Number: SC0017737
Project Duration: 6/12/2017 – 3/11/2018
Total Project Value: $225,000

Key Technology Area: Enabling Technologies

This project will develop a compact, universal rare earth element (REE) analysis system. The system will be based on a compact mass spectrometry system developed for atmospheric gas analysis combined with an advanced sample ionization technique that can be used for coal and/or coal by-products in both solid and aqueous forms. A breadboard prototype for REE analysis will be constructed and tested on samples containing REEs. Desorption and ionization techniques will be optimized for coal and/or coal by-products. Samples containing different rare earth species with various concentration levels will be used to demonstrate the feasibility of the system. The design concept for a portable prototype will also be proposed. This technology could allow

rapid, on-site characterization to determine any content of rare earth and other elements in a sample. Rare earth elements are crucial in the manufacturing of modern high-technology products, such as cell phones, hybrid automobile engines, high-power lasers, and other high-demand devices. Other than its apparent application in the mining industry, analytic chemistry is extremely important in environmental monitoring and protection, forensic science, chemical warfare, pharmaceutical research and development, as well as in clinical applications. A portable instrument providing real-time analysis of target samples will have a broad impact in many industries requiring field-deployable sensors that provide test results quickly and reliably.

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