The lanthanoids, the fourteen elements from cerium to lutetium, are called rare earth elements, but this is a historic name and does not necessarily represent their abundance. China and Australia (for instance) host plenty of ore containing these elements but due to their growing importance the Chinese government recently decided to restrict their export.
Lanthanoid complexes have found applications in MRI, time resolved luminescence and catalysis. Euro bills are printed with an anticounterfeiting ink based on europium complexes. Materials containing these elements, such as intermetallic rare earth–transition metal compounds are able to store and release dihydrogen efficiently and are the basis of batteries in hybrid cars, e.g., in Toyota Prius®.
The growing desire for alternative energy solutions along with plasma display panels, energy saving fluorescent lamps and light emitting diodes, all of which use phosphors based on blue Eu2+, green Tb3+ or red Eu3+ emitters, means that demand for lanthanoids will not abate any time soon.
To highlight the growing importance of these elements to our everyday lives and to explore new developments in lanthanoid chemisty, Zeitschrift für anorganische und allgemeine Chemie (ZAAC) has dedicated a special issue to lanthanoid-specific functionalities in molecules and materials. This issue is edited by the guest editors Rhett Kempe (left), University of Bayreuth, Germany, and Gerd Meyer (right), University of Cologne, Germany.