The Encyclopedia Britannica states that lutetium is used in research, and its compounds are used as hosts for X-ray phosphors and scintillators. Its oxide is also used in optical lenses.
The Jefferson Lab explains that lutetium has no large-scale practical uses, but its radioactive isotopes have potential use as a catalyst in several hydrogenation and polymerization processes and in the cracking of petroleum products. It is known as one of the hardest elements to prepare. The element is mainly acquired through an ion exchange process from monazite sand, which contains plenty of rare earth elements.
Lutetium Facts states that lutetium is used in various applications. In isotope form, it is used for radiation therapy of tiny, soft tumors. Lutetium crystals are typically used in medical scans at the molecular level. Additionally, lutetium has uses in meteorology lasers that detect wind speed, direction, moisture and pollution. High-tech integrated circuits consist of high refractive index optical lenses that are made with lutetium aluminum garnet.
Lutetium is found at an average concentration of 0.5 parts per million in the crust of the Earth. Its resources occur in different geologic environments throughout the world, such as in ion adsorption ores, eudialyte, synchisite and xenotime. It is usually mined as a by-product of tin minerals, titanium and zircon.