Chem Explorers

The Power and Potential of Thulium: From Medicine to Industry

Thulium

Thulium is a rare earth metal with the atomic number 69 and the symbol Tm. It is named after Thule, the ancient name for Scandinavia.

Thulium is one of the least abundant of the rare earth metals, accounting for only about 0.5 parts per million of the earth’s crust.

Properties and Characteristics of

Thulium

Thulium has an atomic mass of 168.934, a melting point of 1545C, and a density of 9.321 grams per cubic centimeter. It is a silver-gray metal that is soft enough to be cut with a knife.

Thulium is paramagnetic, which means that it is weakly attracted to a magnetic field.

Thulium is chemically similar to other rare earth metals and is highly reactive. It readily reacts with air, water, and most acids.

Thulium has no known biological role and is not toxic.

History

Thulium was discovered in 1879 by the Swedish chemist Per Teodor Cleve. He was performing experiments on erbium oxide when he found a small amount of a new element that he named thulium.

Cleve was able to isolate thulium using fractional crystallization.

Identification

The CAS number for thulium is 7440-30-4.

Thulium has 39 known isotopes, with atomic masses ranging from 145 to 183.

Thulium-169 is the most abundant isotope, accounting for about 100% of natural thulium.

Where is it Found

Thulium is found in small amounts in the minerals monazite and euxenite. It can also be found in gadolinite, xenotime, and other rare earth minerals.

Thulium is obtained commercially by ion exchange and solvent extraction processes.

Isotopes

An isotope is a variant of an element that has the same number of protons but a different number of neutrons. This results in different atomic masses for the same element.

For example, thulium-169 has 100 neutrons and an atomic mass of 168.934 amu, while thulium-171 has 102 neutrons and an atomic mass of 170.936 amu.

Isotope Data

Thulium has 39 known isotopes with atomic masses ranging from 145 to 183. The most stable isotopes are thulium-169, thulium-171, and thulium-170.

The abundance of the isotopes of thulium varies, with thulium-169 being the most abundant, accounting for about 100% of natural thulium.

Thulium-171 and thulium-168 account for about 0.1% and 0.04% of natural thulium, respectively.

Half-Life

The half-life of an isotope is the time it takes for half of a sample of the element to decay into a different element.

Thulium-170 is a radioactive isotope with a half-life of 128.6 days.

It decays by beta decay, which means that it emits a beta particle and a neutrino to become a stable isotope of ytterbium. Radioactive

Isotopes

A radioactive isotope is one that spontaneously emits radiation as it decays into a more stable form.

Thulium-170 is a radioactive isotope that is used in medical imaging. It emits gamma radiation and can be used to image the liver and spleen.

Stability

The stability of an isotope depends on the balance between the number of neutrons and protons in its nucleus. If this balance is off, the isotope may be unstable and undergo radioactive decay.

Thulium-170 is not stable and decays into a more stable isotope of ytterbium.

Conclusion

Thulium is a rare earth metal that is chemically similar to other rare earth metals. It is highly reactive and has no known biological role.

Thulium has 39 known isotopes, with thulium-169 being the most abundant.

Thulium-170 is a radioactive isotope that is used in medical imaging.

Understanding the properties and characteristics of thulium and its isotopes is important for research, industry, and medicine.

Thulium, one of the rarest earth metals, has some unique properties that make it useful in several industrial, medical, and scientific applications. In this expansion, we will explore the various ways in which thulium is used and its physical and chemical properties.

Medical and Industrial Uses

Thulium is used in medical x-ray machines and fiber lasers. In medical imaging, thulium is used as a contrast agent in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanners to detect tissues and organs.

Fiber lasers, on the other hand, are used in various applications, including welding, cutting, drilling, and marking.

Thulium-doped fiber lasers are highly efficient, have a long lifetime, and operate at a range of wavelengths.

These lasers find applications in the aerospace industry, defense, and telecommunications. In the industrial sector, thulium has various applications.

Thulium is used as a dopant in specialized glass formulations, including sodium borate-based glasses. The addition of thulium enhances the infrared absorption properties of the glass, making it more suited to particular applications, such as temperature measurement and radiation detection.

Thulium is also used as a catalyst in a range of organic reactions, including hydrogenation, hydrolysis, and carbon-carbon bond formation. The rarity of thulium makes it a highly valuable commodity, and its used in small amounts, making it an exclusive material in industry.

Counterfeit Detection

Thulium can also be used to detect counterfeit Euro banknotes. Euro banknotes have security features to prevent forgery.

Thulium oxide powder mixed with an adhesive can be applied to the banknotes’ special features, making them glow red under black light. The red fluorescence makes identifying counterfeit banknotes easier, and the method is a common technique used by law enforcement agencies.

Costs

One of the major constraints to using thulium is its cost. As mentioned, thulium is a rare earth metal, and while it occurs in small amounts in the earth’s crust, extracting it is difficult and expensive.

The real cost of thulium generally reflects the costs involved in refining the metal and the associated risks.

Thulium refining includes multiple separation steps that require high energy, toxic waste and specialized equipment.

Despite the mounting cost, thulium remains in high demand due to its limited supply and application diversity.

Physical and

Chemical Properties

General Properties

Thulium is a soft, silvery-gray metal that has a shiny luster and is relatively ductile. At room temperature, thulium is a solid and is described as both paramagnetic and ferromagnetic.

Thulium has high electrical conductivity, and it readily reacts with oxygen to form thulium (III) oxide.

Atomic Data

Thulium has 69 protons in its nucleus and is classified as a lanthanide. It has an electron configuration of [Xe] 4f13 6s2.

The valence electrons of thulium are in the 4f orbital, which makes them inaccessible in chemical reactions.

Chemical Properties

In its elemental form, thulium is highly reactive and readily oxidizes to form thulium (III) oxide. In compounds, thulium can have oxidation states ranging from +2 to +4, with +3 being the most common.

Thulium also forms coordination compounds with various organic and inorganic ligands.

Conclusion

Thulium has several applications in industrial, medical, and scientific fields. Due to its rarity, thulium is one of the most expensive metals, and the cost impacts its availability and usage.

Thulium’s physical and chemical properties make it an attractive material for many applications, and understanding these properties is crucial to maximize its potential. Furthermore, it’s expected for the relevance and potential of thulium to keep rising as studies in material science evolve.

Thulium is a rare element with unique properties that make it useful in various industrial, medical, and scientific applications. While thulium is generally safe to handle and not considered toxic, as with any chemical, caution should be exercised when handling it.

Toxicity

Unlike some other rare earth elements like cadmium and mercury, thulium is considered non-toxic to humans and animals. Although there is limited toxicity data available, thulium has not been associated with any negative health effects.

Despite this, it is still important to handle thulium and its compounds with caution and wear the appropriate personal protective equipment.

Fun Facts

Thulium, like other rare earth elements, has some interesting properties that make it unique. One of the most notable properties of thulium is its softness.

Thulium is so soft that it can be easily cut with a knife, and it has a hardness rating of 1.25 on the Mohs scale, making it one of the softest metals.

Thulium has some notable occurrences in nature. It is not found in pure form in nature, but it is found in minerals that contain other rare earth elements.

Thulium is also present in the snow-capped peaks of the Sierra Nevada mountain range in the United States in concentrations that can be up to 20 times higher than in other parts of the world.

Vapor Pressure

Vapor pressure is a measure of the pressure exerted by a gas or vapor in equilibrium with a solid or liquid.

Thulium has a high vapor pressure compared to other rare earth elements, making it challenging to work with when it’s in a gaseous state.

The vapor pressure of thulium increases with temperature, which means that it’s more likely to vaporize at higher temperatures.

In the laboratory, vapor pressure is often measured by heating a sample of the material and measuring the pressure of the vapor that forms.

When thulium is heated, it forms a green flame, and as it continues to heat, it begins to give off a blue glow. As the temperature increases, thulium begins to emit light in the ultraviolet range.

Conclusion

Thulium is a fascinating element with unique properties that make it valuable in a wide range of applications. While it is generally non-toxic, care should be taken when handling it and its compounds.

Thulium’s softness, natural occurrences, and high vapor pressure are interesting features that further highlight this element’s uniqueness. As research and technology evolve, it’s likely that thulium will continue to play an essential role in various industries, from medicine to telecommunications to material science.

Thulium is a rare earth metal that has a range of unique properties and applications in various fields, particularly medicine and industry. Although thulium is considered non-toxic, it should still be handled with care.

Thulium’s softness, natural occurrences and high vapor pressure make it a fascinating element to study. Though considered a costly commodity, thuliums diversity opens the door to innovative technologies that explore a broad range of industrial applications.

FAQs:

Q: Is thulium toxic? A: No, thulium is considered non-toxic to humans and animals.

Q: What are some applications of thulium? A:

Thulium is used in medical imaging, fiber lasers, doping for specialized glasses, as a catalyst in organic reactions, and in detecting counterfeit banknotes.

Q: What are some interesting facts about thulium? A:

Thulium is one of the softest metals and can be easily cut with a knife.

It is also naturally present in the snow-capped peaks of the Sierra Nevada mountain range in the United States. Q: What is the cost of thulium?

A:

Thulium is a rare earth metal and considered one of the most expensive metals due to its limited supply and extraction costs. Q: Is thulium safe to handle?

A: While thulium is non-toxic, it should still be handled with caution, and the appropriate personal protective equipment should be worn.

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