Chem Explorers

Unraveling Yttrium: From Lunar Discoveries to Versatile Applications

Yttrium is a rare earth element that is often used in a variety of industries. It is a silvery-white metal that can be found in trace amounts in various minerals, and its atomic number is 39.

In this article, we will explore the fascinating world of yttrium, including its isotopes, natural sources, discovery, naming, and isolation.

Yttrium as an Element

Yttrium is classified as a rare earth element, meaning that it is part of the group of elements that are found in the lanthanide series of the periodic table. It is located between scandium and lanthanum and shares many similarities with them.

Yttrium is a highly reactive metal that can form various compounds when exposed to oxygen and other elements. One of the most interesting properties of yttrium is that it has several stable and radioactive isotopes.

The most stable isotopes of yttrium are ^89Y and ^91Y, while the most common radioactive isotopes are ^87Y and ^88Y. These isotopes are often used in scientific research and medical applications.

Natural Sources of Yttrium

Yttrium is found in trace amounts in various minerals, including xenotime, euxenite, gadolinite, fergusonite, and ytterbite. These minerals are mostly found in rare earth-rich ores and are typically extracted using solvent extraction techniques or magnetic separation.

Other natural sources of yttrium include meteorites, which contain higher concentrations of yttrium than the Earth’s crust. Additionally, yttrium can be found in seawater, with a concentration of approximately 9 parts per trillion.

Yttrium’s Isotopes and Stability

As mentioned earlier, yttrium has several stable and radioactive isotopes. However, the most stable isotopes of yttrium are ^89Y and ^91Y, with half-lives of 16.1 days and 58.5 days, respectively.

These isotopes are often used in nuclear medicine, as they can target and destroy cancer cells. The most common radioactive isotopes of yttrium are ^87Y and ^88Y, with half-lives of 3.3 days and 106 days, respectively.

These isotopes are often used in industrial and scientific applications, such as radiography and radiography imaging.


Discovery of Yttrium

Yttrium was first discovered in 1794 by a Swedish chemist named Johan Gadolin. He found a black mineral in a quarry near the village of Ytterby in Sweden, which he later named ytterite.

Gadolin was able to extract a white oxide from the mineral, which he named yttria in honor of the village where it was found.

Naming of Yttrium

In 1798, the chemist Martin Heinrich Klaproth named the new element yttrium after the mineral ytterite. However, it wasn’t until 1843 that yttrium was officially recognized as a new element by the scientific community.

Isolation of Yttrium

In 1828, the Swedish chemist Friedrich Whler was able to isolate yttrium by reducing yttria with potassium. However, this method was not widely used until the early 1900s since yttrium was still relatively scarce.


In conclusion, yttrium is a fascinating element that has been an object of scientific interest since its discovery in 1794. Despite its rarity, yttrium is widely used in various industries due to its unique properties, including its isotopes and stability.

Its discovery, naming, and isolation also play interesting roles in the history of chemistry and science. Overall, yttrium is a great example of how science and innovation can lead to the discovery of new elements that can change the world as we know it.

Yttrium is a rare earth element that has unique properties, making it widely used in various industries. In this article, we will explore yttrium’s classification and position on the periodic table.

We’ll also look at the physical and chemical properties of yttrium and discuss its atomic data.

Classification and Position on the Periodic Table

Yttrium is part of the periodic table’s transition metal series, specifically group 3 and period 5. This placement is due to yttrium’s electron configuration, which is [Kr] 4d^1 5s^2.

This configuration means that yttrium has one electron in its 4d orbital, which gives it its transition metal properties. Additionally, yttrium’s electron configuration indicates that it has two valence electrons.

Yttrium’s position on the periodic table also indicates its location in the periodic table blocks. Yttrium belongs to the d-block since its valence electrons occupy the d-orbitals.

Properties of Yttrium

Physical Properties

Yttrium is a silvery-white metal that has a hexagonal close-packed crystalline structure. It is relatively soft and ductile, which means it can be easily shaped into various forms.

Yttrium has a density of 4.47 g/cm^3 and a melting point of 1526C. Its boiling point is 3336C, which is relatively high compared to other elements in the periodic table.

Chemical Properties

Yttrium is a reactive metal, but it is not as reactive as other rare earth elements. It has a low flammability and can react with oxygen to form yttrium oxide (Y2O3) and yttrium peroxide (YO2).

Yttrium has an oxidation state of +3, which is the most common oxidation state for rare earth metals. It can also form compounds with other elements, including halogens and nitrogen.

Atomic Data

Yttrium’s atomic number is 39, indicating that it has 39 protons in its nucleus. It has an electron configuration of [Kr] 4d^1 5s^2, which means it has a total of 39 electrons in its orbitals.

Yttrium has one valence electron in its 4d orbital and two valence electrons in its 5s orbital. Yttrium has four quantum numbers that describe its electrons’ behavior in atoms.

The principal quantum number (n) describes the electron’s energy level, and for yttrium, it is 5. The secondary quantum number (l) defines the electron’s orbital that has a value from 0 to (n-1), and for yttrium, it can have values of 0 or 1.

The magnetic quantum number (m) determines the orbital’s magnetic moment and can have values from -l to l. For yttrium, it can have values of -1 or 0 or 1.

Finally, the spin quantum number (s) describes the electron’s spin, which can either be +/- 1/2. Yttrium also has a first ionization energy of 600 kJ/mol, which means that it requires 600 kJ of energy to remove one valence electron from yttrium’s outermost shell.

In conclusion, yttrium is a rare earth metal that has unique properties, making it widely used in various industries. Its position on the periodic table indicates its electron configuration, group, period, and block.

Additionally, yttrium’s physical and chemical properties and atomic data provide valuable insights into its unique behavior in chemical reactions. Overall, yttrium is an essential element that is often used in various industrial processes and has many scientific applications.

Yttrium, a rare earth metal, has several unique properties that make it sought after in various industries. This article will delve into the many ways that yttrium is used in modern society, as well as potential health hazards associated with exposure to this element.

Uses of Yttrium

Strengthening Alloys

Yttrium is frequently used in the production of alloy metals. When added in small amounts to other metals such as aluminum, magnesium, and titanium, yttrium improves their mechanical strength and resistance to high temperatures.

Yttrium can also be used in the production of superalloys that are used in the construction of jet engines and other high-performance machines.

Polymerization Catalyst

Yttrium compounds have excellent catalytic properties. They can be used to initiate and control polymerization reactions, which are essential for the production of plastics and rubber materials.

Yttrium catalysts can also be used in other chemical reactions that need to be precisely controlled.

Deoxidizer in Non-Ferrous Metals

Yttrium can be used as a deoxidizer in the production of non-ferrous metals like copper, nickel, and zinc. It can effectively remove oxygen and other impurities from molten metals, resulting in a higher quality finished product.

Lithium Iron Phosphate Batteries

Yttrium is also an essential component for the production of lithium iron phosphate batteries. These batteries are used in various applications, including electric cars, power tools, and backup energy storage devices.

Yttrium can increase the battery’s performance and provide stability to the lithium iron phosphate cathode.

Radiation Therapy and Medical Applications

Yttrium-90, a radioactive isotope of yttrium, is often used in radiation therapy for the treatment of certain cancers, including lymphoma, bone cancer, and liver cancer. The radioactive isotope is used to target cancer cells while minimizing exposure to healthy tissue.

Yttrium-90 is also used for imaging studies in medicine. Yttrium is also used in the production of certain medical devices, such as surgical instruments and dental implants.

It can be incorporated into the material of these devices to increase their strength and durability.

Use in Camera Lenses and Communication Devices

Yttrium is used in the production of camera lenses and other optical devices. It is used to create crystal and glass components that have excellent light transmission properties.

These lenses are used in cameras, microscopes, telescopes, and other optical instruments. Yttrium is also used in the production of communication devices, such as smartphones and computers.

Production of Red Phosphorus for Color Television Tubes

Yttrium is an essential component of red phosphorus, which is used in color television tubes. The red phosphorus is incorporated into the tube to produce a high-quality image display.

Use in Jewelry-Making

Yttrium has excellent light reflection and high thermal stability properties, making it a popular component in jewelry-making. Yttrium is commonly used to make cubic zirconia stones, which have a similar appearance to diamonds.

Yttrium Toxicity and Health Hazards

While yttrium has many industrial and medical applications, exposure to yttrium compounds can pose a risk to human health.

Toxicity of Yttrium Compounds

Yttrium is generally considered non-toxic, but some compounds that contain yttrium can be harmful to human health. Yttrium compounds can cause skin irritation, eye irritation, and respiratory problems when inhaled.

They may also cause digestive issues such as abdominal pain, diarrhea, and nausea when ingested.

Symptoms and Effects of Exposure

Long-term exposure to high levels of yttrium can cause more severe health problems, including an increased risk of cancer. Symptoms of yttrium exposure include lung damage, muscle weakness, and skeletal abnormalities.

Harmlessness of Insoluble Compounds

Insoluble yttrium compounds are generally considered less harmful than soluble compounds. Insoluble compounds, like yttrium oxide, are less likely to enter the body through inhalation or ingestion and therefore have a lower risk of causing health problems.

In conclusion, yttrium’s unique properties make it an essential component in various industrial and medical applications. However, exposure to certain yttrium compounds can pose a health risk and should be handled with care.

Soluble yttrium compounds are more likely to cause health issues than insoluble compounds. As with all chemicals, precautions should be taken to ensure safe handling, storage, and disposal of yttrium and its compounds.

Yttrium, a fascinating rare earth metal, has several interesting facts associated with it. In this article, we will explore yttrium’s presence on the moon, its formation of oxide coating for stability, as well as its cost on the market.

Yttrium on the Moon

Yttrium has been detected on the moon’s surface. Lunar samples brought back by the Apollo missions revealed the presence of yttrium compounds in the moon rocks.

Yttrium is believed to have been formed during the moon’s early history when it experienced intense volcanic activity. These volcanic eruptions released yttrium-rich material onto the lunar surface, leaving deposits that have been identified and studied by scientists.

Formation of Oxide Coating for Stability

Yttrium has a unique ability to form a stable oxide coating when exposed to air. When yttrium metal is exposed to oxygen, it rapidly reacts to form yttrium oxide (Y2O3) on the surface.

This oxide layer acts as a protective barrier, preventing further oxidation of the metal. The oxide coating gives yttrium its characteristic silvery-white appearance and helps to enhance its overall stability.

This oxide coating is of great importance in various applications, such as in the production of alloys and catalysts. It not only provides a protective layer but also improves the adhesion and bonding between yttrium and other materials, leading to enhanced properties and performance.

Yttrium Cost

The cost of pure yttrium can vary based on several factors, such as supply and demand dynamics, production methods, geographical location, and purity level. Yttrium is classified as a rare earth element, and like other rare earth elements, its availability can be limited, which can contribute to fluctuations in price.

As of [current year], the price range of pure yttrium is approximately $200 to $400 per kilogram. However, it is worth noting that this price range can change over time due to various factors, including changes in production rates, geopolitical factors, and technological advancements.

The cost of yttrium also differs depending on the form in which it is purchased. Yttrium oxide, for example, is often more readily available and can be obtained at a lower cost compared to pure yttrium metal.

Yttrium compounds and alloys that contain yttrium may also have varying prices, depending on their composition and specific application requirements. It is important to keep in mind that the rare earth market as a whole is subject to price volatility, and this can impact the cost of yttrium.

Factors such as changes in mining regulations, export restrictions, and geopolitical tensions between supplier countries can impact the availability and cost of rare earth elements, including yttrium. In conclusion, yttrium has intriguing characteristics that make it a valuable element in various industries.

Its presence on the moon highlights the element’s significance beyond Earth, while its ability to form an oxide coating adds to its stability and versatility in applications. The cost of yttrium can fluctuate due to factors such as supply and demand dynamics, production methods, and geopolitical influences.

As our understanding of yttrium and its applications continues to evolve, so too may its cost and role in shaping technological advancements and scientific discoveries. In conclusion, yttrium is a remarkable rare earth metal with various uses and intriguing properties.

It can be found on the moon, highlighting its presence beyond Earth. Yttrium’s ability to form a stable oxide coating adds to its stability and effectiveness in applications.

The cost of yttrium can fluctuate based on supply and demand dynamics. Overall, yttrium plays a crucial role in industries such as alloys, batteries, medical applications, and communication devices.

It is a versatile element that continues to shape technological advancements and scientific discoveries. FAQs:

1) Where is yttrium found?

Yttrium can be found in trace amounts in various minerals and ores, as well as in meteorites and seawater. 2) Is yttrium toxic?

Yttrium is generally considered non-toxic, but some of its compounds can be harmful if ingested or inhaled. 3) What are the key industrial uses of yttrium?

Yttrium is used in strengthening alloys, as a polymerization catalyst, deoxidizer in non-ferrous metals, and in the production of batteries, medical devices, camera lenses, and jewelry. 4) How does yttrium play a role in radiation therapy?

Yttrium-90, a radioactive isotope of yttrium, is used in radiation therapy to treat certain types of cancer by targeting and destroying cancer cells. 5) How does yttrium form an oxide coating?

Yttrium rapidly reacts with oxygen in the air to form yttrium oxide, which acts as a protective barrier, enhancing stability and adhesion properties. 6) What is the cost of yttrium?

The cost of pure yttrium can vary, but it is generally in the range of $200 to $400 per kilogram. 7) Can yttrium be used for lunar exploration?

Yttrium’s presence on the moon can be of interest for future lunar exploration missions as it provides insight into the moon’s geological history and could be potentially utilized in scientific research or future human activities on the lunar surface. 8) Are there alternatives to yttrium in industrial applications?

While there are some alternatives to yttrium in specific applications, its unique properties and characteristics make it highly desirable and difficult to replace in many industries.

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