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Crystal Chemistry and Thermodynamics of HREE (Er, Yb) Mixing in a Xenotime Solid Solution

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journal contribution
posted on 02.05.2022, 19:12 authored by Andrew C. Strzelecki, Margaret Reece, Xiaodong Zhao, Wendy Yu, Chris Benmore, Yang Ren, Christopher Alcorn, Artaches Migdisov, Hongwu Xu, Xiaofeng Guo
Rare earth elements (REEs), the 15 naturally occurring lanthanides plus yttrium and scandium, are ubiquitously used in modern life as they are critical components of many advanced devices and technologies. However, the demand for REEs is not equal, with the heavy rare earth elements (HREEs) having a higher demand. Xenotime (HREEPO4) is an important HREE ore mineral and globally is an economical source of HREE. Most of the crystallographic and thermodynamic properties of xenotime endmembers have been elucidated by calorimetric, solubility, and high-pressure studies. Yet, in natural systems, endmembers are rarely encountered, and instead, REE solid solutions are more commonly observed. In this work, we characterize the crystal chemistry, thermodynamics of HREE mixing, and high-temperature material behaviors and thermochemistry of a synthetic erbium (Er)–ytterbium (Yb) binary xenotime solid solution (Er(x)Yb(1–x)PO4) using a suite of experimental techniques, including X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy, synchrotron X-ray powder diffraction implemented with Rietveld analysis, Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy coupled with attenuated total reflectance, Raman spectroscopy, thermogravimetric analysis coupled with differential scanning calorimetry, and high-temperature oxide melt drop solution calorimetry. Our results shed light on the formation of natural xenotimes and lay the foundation for their industrial applications as thermal coating materials.