Rare earth elements are a group of 17 metals with very similar sizes but unique roles in technologies that are essential for a clean-energy future. As a result, efficiently separating one from another is a long-standing challenge and a modern imperative. In this talk, I will describe some of the fundamental insights that natural rare-earth-binding proteins have yielded into how to differentiate between these very similar elements. I will also illustrate how these insights are guiding the development of protein-based separation processes, towards the holy grail of efficient separation of rare earths adjacent to each other on the periodic table.

Speaker: Joseph Cotruvo | Chemistry