Yttrium Facts: Learn About This Silvery-Metallic Element | Kidadl


Yttrium Facts: Learn About This Silvery-Metallic Element

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Yttrium was discovered in the late 1800s, and it has become widely used in chemistry, physics, computer technology, medicine, energy, and other industries.

On the Periodic Table of Elements, it's classified as a transition metal with a high melting point and boiling point, along with some other well-known elements like silver and iron. Yttrium is found mostly in heavy rare-earth ores, the most notable of which are laterite clays, euxenite, gadolinite, and xenotime.

Except for cerium, this element is more abundant than any other rare earth element in the igneous rocks of the Earth's crust, and it is twice as abundant as lead. Yttrium oxide, doped with europium, provided the red color on millions of color-television sets made of large cathode ray tubes. Yttrium iron garnet is utilized in lasers and electronic data storage systems.

The Discovery Of Yttrium

In 1794, yttrium was discovered by the Finnish chemist and physicist Johan Gadolin. Gadolin identified a novel oxide compound (later proved to be yttrium oxide) that accounted for 38% of the rock's weight when examining it in 1794 and dubbed it 'earth' since it could not undergo further reduction even after heating with charcoal.

Friedrich Wohler extracted yttrium from yttrium chloride by treating it with potassium in 1828. Other components, however, were also present. Carl Gustaf Mosander, a Swedish scientist, observed the presence of three oxides in yttrium samples in 1843. They were named yttrium oxide, erbium oxide, and terbium oxide, and they have white, rose, and yellow-colored appearances, respectively. In addition, ytterbium oxide, a fourth oxide, was discovered.

Various Uses Of Yttrium

Yttrium is frequently used as an addition in magnesium alloys and aluminum alloys to gain strength. It's also utilized to make microwave filters used in radar and as a catalyst in the polymerization of ethene. In modern industrial lasers, yttrium aluminum garnets (YAG) are employed as crystals that intensify the light.

Lasers that have the ability to cut through metals employ yttrium-aluminum-garnet (YAG). It's also used in the manufacture of white LED lights. To make camera lenses more heat and shock-resistant, yttrium oxides are added to the glass. It's also employed in the production of superconductors. Phosphors, which are utilized in cell phones and larger display screens as well as general lighting, are made from them. The addition of yttria to zirconium oxide produces an alloy that stabilizes its crystal structure, which is prone to temperature variations. Yttrium Iron Garnet (YIG) is a synthetic garnet that is used in microwaves, acoustic energy transducers, and optical devices to filter out microwave radiation or convert electrical signals into sound (or vice versa) in microphones. Yttrium can also be found in nuclear fission products.

Learn about various rare earth elements, including yttrium.

The Importance Of Yttrium

Yttrium was less expensive and easier to work with than many other elements. In order to construct fuel cells, scientists are employing yttrium rather than the much more expensive platinum. Nanoparticles of yttrium and other rare earth elements are being developed, which could one day eliminate the need for fossil fuels and improve the efficiency of battery-powered vehicles.

Superconductivity research based on yttrium is still going on all around the world. In the field of health care, breakthroughs are being achieved in levitation trains and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) examinations. This element is used as a deoxidizer in non-ferrous metals like vanadium due to its high affinity for oxygen. In lithium iron phosphate batteries, yttrium is used to increase capacity and longevity. Excessive exposure can cause pulmonary disease. In animal studies, yttrium and similar chemicals have been proven to cause liver and lung damage. Radiation therapy with the radioactive isotope yttrium-90 is used in cancer treatment. A radioactive isotope breaks apart and emits radiation when it decays.

In-car exhaust systems, it serves as a solid electrolyte and an oxygen sensor. Yttrium plays an essential part in electronics, serving as the basis for the phosphors that produce the red hue on television displays and as microwave filters in radar in the form of garnets like Y3Fe5O12. Because of its low neutron absorption cross-section, yttrium has the potential to be used as a reactor moderator, albeit this application has yet to be explored.

The Characteristics & Features Of Yttrium

Yttrium is a bright, rare earth silvery metal of group three of the periodic table. Its chemical symbol is Y. Its atomic number is 39. The atomic weight of yttrium is 88.90585(2). It's made into a dark gray to black powder with a modest shine with less electronegativity. Yttrium's melting point of 1,509 C (2,748 F) and has a boiling point of about 3,000 C (5,400 F). Its density is 0.2 oz per 3.5 cubic ft (4.5 g per cubic cm). These are a few of its physical properties.

It reacts with cool water slowly, and it reacts rapidly with hot or warm water. It dissolves in both acids and alkalis. The chemical opposite of an acid is an alkali. Common alkalis include sodium hydroxide ('home lye') and limewater. Solid yttrium metal is unaffected by atmospheric oxygen. When it's powdered, though, it reacts quite quickly. At high temperatures, yttrium powder can react explosively with oxygen. It's also found in uranium ores.


Q. What is yttrium used for in everyday life?

A. Although yttrium is used in a wide range of applications, ceramics and phosphors are the most common. In metallurgy, catalysts, and glass polishing, smaller amounts of yttrium are employed.

Q. Does yttrium have a smell?

A. The element does not have any odor.

Q. Is yttrium metal toxic?

A. While yttrium's water-soluble compounds are hazardous, its water-insoluble compounds are thought to be nontoxic. Coughing, shortness of breath, and chest pain are among the symptoms that can be caused by yttrium compounds exposure.

Q. Where is yttrium found on Earth?

A. Yttrium is contained in practically all rare earth minerals like bastnasite, fergusonite, monazite, samarskite, and xenotime. The top producers of yttrium are China, Russia, India, Malaysia, and Australia.

Q. How many shells does yttrium have?

A. The element yttrium has five shells. The ground state electronic configuration of yttrium is [Kr] 4d1 5s2.

Q. How is yttrium used in phones?

A. Phosphors, which are utilized in cell phones and larger display screens as well as general lighting, are made from yttrium. Also in order to make them shock and heat-resistant, yttrium oxide is used.

Q. Where did yttrium get its name?

A. Johan Gadolin, a Finnish chemist, extracted yttria, from a mineral discovered in Ytterby, Sweden, in 1794. Gadolin was the first to isolate yttrium within a mineral, which was eventually dubbed gadolinite after him. The element is named after a locality in the Swedish town of Ytterby.

Written By
Moumita Dutta

<p>A content writer and editor with a passion for sports, Moumita has honed her skills in producing compelling match reports and stories about sporting heroes. She holds a degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the Indian Institute of Social Welfare and Business Management, Calcutta University, alongside a postgraduate diploma in Sports Management.</p>

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