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Yttrium Facts

Chemical & Physical Properties


Yttrium is a silvery rare earth metal.

Yttrium is a silvery rare earth metal. This is a photograph of yttrium crystal dendrites and a yttrium metal cube.

Alchemist-hp This is a photo of an ultrapure (99.99%) crystal of yttrium metal.

This is a photo of an ultrapure (99.99%) crystal of yttrium metal. The yttrium crystal, which shows the crystal dendrites, is 3 cm long and has been cast in acrylic.

Alchemist-hp This is the electron configuration of a yttrium atom.

This is the electron configuration of a yttrium atom.

Periodic Table of the Elements


Atomic Number: 39

Symbol: Y

Atomic Weight: 88.90585

Discovery: Johann Gadolin 1794 (Finland)

Electron Configuration: [Kr] 5s1 4d1

Word Origin: Named for Ytterby, a village in Sweden near Vauxholm. Ytterby is the site of a quarry which yielded many minerals containing rare earths and other elements (erbium, terbium, and ytterbium).

Isotopes: Natural yttrium is composed of yttrium-89 only. 19 unstable isotopes are also known.

Properties: Yttrium has a metallic silver luster. It is relatively stable in air except when finely divided. Yttrium turnings will ignite in air if their temperature exceeds 400°C.

Uses: Yttrium oxides are a component of the phosphors used to produce the red color in television picture tubes. The oxides have potential use in ceramics and glass. Yttrium oxides have high melting points and impart shock resistance and low expansion to glass. Yttrium iron garnets are used to filter microwaves and as transmitters and transducers of acoustic energy. Yttrium aluminum garnets, with a hardness of 8.5, are used to simulate diamond gemstones. Small quantities of yttrium may be added to reduce the grain size in chromium, molybdenum, zirconium, and titanium, and to increase strength of aluminum and magnesium alloys. Yttrium is used as a deoxidizer for vanadium and other nonferrous metals. It is used as a catalyst in the polymerization of ethylene.

Element Classification: Transition Metal

Density (g/cc): 4.47

Melting Point (K): 1795

Boiling Point (K): 3611

Appearance: silvery, ductile, moderately reactive metal

Atomic Radius (pm): 178

Atomic Volume (cc/mol): 19.8

Covalent Radius (pm): 162

Ionic Radius: 89.3 (+3e)

Specific Heat (@20°C J/g mol): 0.284

Fusion Heat (kJ/mol): 11.5

Evaporation Heat (kJ/mol): 367

Pauling Negativity Number: 1.22

First Ionizing Energy (kJ/mol): 615.4

Oxidation States: 3

Lattice Structure: hexagonal

Lattice Constant (Å): 3.650

Lattice C/A Ratio: 1.571


References: Los Alamos National Laboratory (2001), Crescent Chemical Company (2001), Lange's Handbook of Chemistry (1952), CRC Handbook of Chemistry & Physics (18th Ed.)


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