Carl Axel Arrhenius (29 March 1757 – 20 November 1824) was a Swedish
chemist. He is most widely known as the discoverer of a mineral which
turned out to contain a plethora of new chemical elements: the
rare-earth metals, all of which are chemically very similar to each
other. It is very difficult to find any one of these without
impurities of the others.
Arrhenius was born in Stockholm. He became interested in mineralogy
and chemistry after he met
Peter Jacob Hjelm at the Swedish Royal Mint
laboratory. Arrhenius was a lieutenant at the Svea Artillery Regiment
stationed in Vaxholm. He then took part in the campaign against
Finland in 1788. He was promoted to
Feldzeugmeister and lieutenant
colonel at the Svea artilleriregemente and was sent to the command of
the manufacture of gunpowder in Sweden in 1816.
Arrhenius's chemical studies started at the Royal Mint's (Kungliga
Myntet) laboratory, where he studied the characteristics of powder as
an artillery officer. During his visit to Paris during 1787–88, he
met the French chemist Antoine Lavoisier, "the father of modern
chemistry". Upon his return to Sweden became an ardent defender of the
revolutionary ideas in chemistry promoted by Antoine Lavoisier.
During his time in Vaxholm, Arrhenius visited the feldspar mine in the
Ytterby on the island of Resarön, near Vaxholm. He
found a dark mineral which he named ytterbite and sent to the chemist
Johan Gadolin at the
University of Åbo
University of Åbo for further analysis. This
permitted the discovery of four new elements by various chemist:
yttrium, terbium, erbium, and ytterbium, and eventually the rest of
the rare-earth metals, including scandium, lanthanum, cerium,
neodymium, and thulium.
Arrhenius became a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of War Sciences
1799, and of the
Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences
Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences 1817.
^ Pecharsky, Vitalij. "Rare-earth element". Britannica.com.
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