In partnership with NETL, researchers at Idaho National Laboratory (INL), Rutgers, Arizona State University, OLI Systems and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory are developing new sensing methods of detecting rare earth elements (REEs) contained within America’s fossil energy resources using luminescent detection. REEs include the lanthanide elements along with scandium and yttrium. These elements are used in a wide variety of strategic and economically vital industries such as energy, defense, medical technology and consumer electronics. With most existing REE supplies controlled by foreign countries, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and NETL have funded numerous research projects that will create a domestic REE supply chain using the nation’s historic energy resources. INL sought to develop a new simple, sensitive and rapid approach for detecting REEs in any kind of carbon-based solid or liquid. This approach had to be applicable to diverse chemical and mineral matrices that will effectively detect REEs in aqueous solutions at less than one part per million (ppm) and distinguish it between multiple REEs co-occurring in the same sample.