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Ytterbium (Yb): Lanthanides

Ytterbium (Yb)

What is Ytterbium?

Ytterbium is a typical metal. It has a bright, shiny surface and is malleable and ductile. Malleable means capable of being hammered into thin sheets. Ductile means capable of being drawn into thin wires. Ytterbium tends to be more reactive than other lanthanide elements. It is usually stored in sealed containers to keep it from reacting with oxygen in the air. It also reacts slowly with water and more rapidly with acids and liquid ammonia.  It is thought to have an abundance of about 2.7 to 8 parts per million in the Earth's crust.  Its most common ore is monazite, which is found in beach sands in Brazil, India, and Florida. Continue reading from Chemistry Explained

The History

In 1787, Karl Arrhenius came across an unusual black rock in an old quarry at Ytterby, near Stockholm. He thought he had found a new tungsten mineral, and passed the specimen over to Johan Gadolin based in Finland. In 1794, Gadolin announced that it contained a new 'earth' which made up 38 per cent of its weight. It was called an’ earth’ because it was yttrium oxide, Y2O3, which could not be reduced further by heating with charcoal.  The metal itself was first isolated in 1828 by Friedrich Wöhler and made by reacting yttrium chloride with potassium. Yet, yttrium was still hiding other elements.  In 1843, Carl Mosander investigated yttrium oxide more thoroughly and found that it consisted of three oxides: yttrium oxide, which was white; terbium oxide, which was yellow; and erbium oxide, which was rose-coloured. Continue reading from Royal Society of Chemistry

Ytterbium Facts

 It is commercially recovered principally from monazite sand, which contains about 0.03 percent. Ion-exchange and solvent extraction techniques have simplified the separation of the rare earths from one another. Ytterby is the site of a quarry that yielded many unusual minerals containing rare earths and other elements.

Ytterbium has few uses. It can be alloyed with stainless steel to improve some of its mechanical properties and used as a doping agent in fiber optic cable. One of ytterbium's isotopes is being considered as a radiation source for portable X-ray machines. Continue reading from LiveScience

Chart of Elemental Properties for Ytterbium

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