Thulium Properties, usage, isotopes, methods of production and applications

Thulium Properties

Thulium properties, discovery, usage, isotopes, methods of production, applications, interesting facts, FAQs, Thermal, physical, chemical and magnetic properties

Thulium – An Essential Element for Modern Applications

Introduction to Thulium: Thulium, with the atomic number 69 and symbol Tm, is a rare earth element that belongs to the lanthanide series of the periodic table. This chemical element is named after the mythological northern land of Thule, which was believed to be the farthest north point on Earth. Thulium is relatively rare in nature and has limited applications, but it holds significant importance in various fields, including science, research, and technology. In this brief introduction, we will explore the essential characteristics of thulium, including its atomic number, symbol, atomic weight, and valency.

Table: Thulium’s Atomic Number, Symbol, Atomic Weight, and Valency

Atomic NumberSymbolAtomic WeightValency
69Tm168.93421+2, +3
Thulium’s Atomic Number, Symbol, Atomic Weight, and Valency

Please note that the atomic weight mentioned in the table represents the atomic mass of the most stable isotope of thulium, which is Thulium-169.

Thulium’s Atomic Number (69): The atomic number of an element represents the number of protons found in the nucleus of an atom. In the case of thulium, it has 69 protons, defining its atomic number. This unique number determines thulium’s position in the periodic table, distinguishing it from other elements.

Thulium’s Symbol (Tm): Every chemical element is assigned a symbol, typically derived from either its English or Latin name. In the case of thulium, its symbol is Tm. The use of symbols allows for easy identification and representation of elements in various scientific notations and equations.

Thulium’s Atomic Weight (168.93421): The atomic weight of an element refers to the average mass of its atoms, taking into account the different isotopes and their abundances. For thulium, the atomic weight is approximately 168.93421 atomic mass units (u). This value represents the weighted average of the various isotopes of thulium found in nature.

Thulium’s Valency (+2, +3): Valency, also known as the combining power of an element, represents the number of electrons an atom can gain, lose, or share to form chemical bonds. Thulium exhibits two common valencies: +2 and +3. This means that thulium atoms can either gain or lose two or three electrons to form stable compounds with other elements.

Conclusion: Thulium, with its atomic number 69, symbol Tm, atomic weight of 168.93421, and valencies of +2 and +3, is an intriguing rare earth element. While it has limited natural occurrence and practical applications, thulium remains a subject of interest in scientific research, contributing to advancements in various fields. Understanding the fundamental properties of thulium provides a foundation for further exploration and utilization of this unique chemical element.

Thulium : Discovery, Usage, and Key Points

Discovery of Thulium:

Thulium was discovered in 1879 by Swedish chemist Per Teodor Cleve. Cleve, along with his colleague Lars Fredrik Nilson, was studying the rare earth minerals found in the mineral gadolinite. Through a series of chemical separation techniques, they successfully isolated a new element, which Cleve named thulium after the mythological land of Thule.

Thulium properties
Thulium was discovered in 1879 by Swedish chemist Per Teodor Cleve

Modern Usage:

  1. High-Temperature Superconductors: Thulium compounds, particularly thulium barium calcium copper oxide (TBCCO), have been studied for their potential use in high-temperature superconductors. These materials exhibit zero electrical resistance at elevated temperatures, enabling more efficient power transmission and advanced electronic applications.
  2. Medical Imaging: Thulium has medical applications, primarily in laser technology for imaging and surgical procedures. Thulium-doped lasers are used in dermatology and urology for various treatments, including skin resurfacing and laser lithotripsy to break down kidney stones.
  3. X-ray Sources: Thulium-based X-ray sources find applications in medical diagnostics and industrial radiography. Thulium-170, a radioactive isotope, emits gamma rays suitable for imaging techniques, aiding in the detection of defects in materials and medical imaging.
  4. High-Intensity Lamps: Thulium-doped lamps can produce high-intensity light sources, making them suitable for specialized lighting applications, such as stage lighting and film projectors.
  5. Research and Development: Thulium is also employed in scientific research as a spectroscopic probe for studying magnetic properties and investigating the behavior of materials under extreme conditions, such as low temperatures or high pressures.

Important Points to Remember about Discovery and Usage

Important Points
Thulium was discovered in 1879 by Per Teodor Cleve.
It was named after the mythological land of Thule.
Thulium has applications in high-temperature superconductors.
Thulium-doped lasers are used in medical imaging and surgeries.
Thulium-based X-ray sources aid in medical diagnostics.
Thulium-doped lamps find applications in specialized lighting.
Thulium is utilized in scientific research and material studies.
Important Points to Remember about Discovery and Usage

Thulium Properties and Key Points

Properties of Thulium:

  1. Physical Properties:
    • Atomic Number: 69
    • Atomic Symbol: Tm
    • Atomic Weight: 168.93421
    • Melting Point: 1545°C (2813°F)
    • Boiling Point: 1950°C (3542°F)
    • Density: 9.32 grams per cubic centimeter
    • State at Room Temperature: Solid
    • Color: Silvery-gray
  2. Chemical Properties:
    • Valency: Thulium commonly exhibits valencies of +2 and +3, meaning it can gain or lose 2 or 3 electrons to form stable compounds.
    • Reactivity: Thulium is a moderately reactive element, combining with various non-metals and halogens. It reacts slowly with water and acids.
  3. Electronic Configuration:
    • Thulium’s electronic configuration is [Xe] 4f^13 6s^2, with seven valence electrons.
  4. Magnetic Properties:
    • Thulium possesses unique magnetic properties. It is paramagnetic at room temperature, meaning it is weakly attracted to magnetic fields. At low temperatures, thulium exhibits antiferromagnetic behavior, where its magnetic moments align in an alternating pattern.
  5. Isotopes:
    • Thulium has numerous isotopes, with the most stable being Thulium-169, which is not radioactive. Other isotopes, such as Thulium-170 and Thulium-171, have applications in nuclear medicine and radiography.

Important Points to Remember about Properties

Important Points
Thulium is a silvery-gray solid element with atomic number 69 (Tm).
It has a melting point of 1545°C and a boiling point of 1950°C.
Thulium exhibits valencies of +2 and +3 and can form stable compounds.
The electronic configuration of thulium is [Xe] 4f^13 6s^2.
It possesses unique magnetic properties, including paramagnetism.
Thulium’s isotopes, such as Thulium-169, have various applications.
Important Points to Remember about Properties

Thulium Isotopes and Compounds – Exploring Variations and Applications

Isotopes of Thulium:

Thulium has numerous isotopes, ranging from Thulium-145 to Thulium-179. However, the most stable isotope is Thulium-169, which is non-radioactive. Other notable isotopes include Thulium-170 and Thulium-171, which have applications in nuclear medicine and radiography due to their radioactive properties. These isotopes emit gamma rays that can be used for imaging and diagnostic purposes.

Compounds of Thulium:

Thulium forms compounds with various elements, displaying diverse chemical behaviors based on its valency. Some notable compounds include:

  1. Thulium Oxide (Tm2O3): Thulium oxide is a compound formed by the reaction of thulium with oxygen. It is a white solid and is commonly used in ceramics, glass, and phosphors.
  2. Thulium Chloride (TmCl3): Thulium chloride is a compound formed by the reaction of thulium with chlorine. It is a yellowish solid and finds applications in research and as a catalyst in organic chemistry.
  3. Thulium Nitrate (Tm(NO3)3): Thulium nitrate is a compound formed by the reaction of thulium with nitric acid. It is a colorless crystalline solid and is utilized in various chemical and analytical applications.
  4. Thulium Fluoride (TmF3): Thulium fluoride is a compound formed by the reaction of thulium with fluorine. It is a white solid and is commonly used in optical coatings and as a catalyst in organic reactions.
  5. Thulium Sulfate (Tm2(SO4)3): Thulium sulfate is a compound formed by the reaction of thulium with sulfuric acid. It is a white crystalline solid and has applications in research and chemical synthesis.

Thermal, Physical, Chemical, and Magnetic Properties of Thulium

Thermal Properties:

  1. Melting Point: Thulium has a relatively high melting point of 1545°C (2813°F). This indicates its ability to withstand high temperatures without undergoing a phase change from solid to liquid.
  2. Boiling Point: Thulium has a boiling point of 1950°C (3542°F). This temperature represents the point at which thulium transitions from a liquid to a gaseous state.

Physical Properties:

  1. State at Room Temperature: Thulium is a solid element at room temperature and pressure.
  2. Density: Thulium has a density of 9.32 grams per cubic centimeter (g/cm³). This density is relatively high, indicating its solid and compact nature.
  3. Color: Thulium appears as a silvery-gray metal, resembling other lanthanide elements.

Chemical Properties:

  1. Valency: Thulium exhibits two common valencies, +2 and +3. This means that thulium atoms can either gain or lose two or three electrons, respectively, when forming chemical compounds.
  2. Reactivity: Thulium is a moderately reactive element. It reacts slowly with water and acids. Thulium also readily combines with non-metals and halogens to form compounds.

Magnetic Properties:

  1. Paramagnetism: Thulium exhibits paramagnetic behavior at room temperature, which means it is weakly attracted to magnetic fields. This property arises from the presence of unpaired electrons in its electronic configuration.
  2. Antiferromagnetism: At low temperatures, thulium exhibits antiferromagnetic behavior. In this state, neighboring magnetic moments of thulium atoms align in an alternating pattern, resulting in a net magnetic moment of zero.

Methods of Production and Applications of Thulium

Methods of Production:

Thulium is primarily obtained through mining and extraction processes. The production of thulium involves the following methods:

  1. Rare Earth Mining: Thulium is extracted from rare earth mineral deposits, such as monazite, bastnäsite, and xenotime. These minerals contain various rare earth elements, including thulium, which are separated through mineral processing techniques.
  2. Ion Exchange or Solvent Extraction: Once the rare earth minerals are obtained, further purification is necessary to isolate thulium. Ion exchange and solvent extraction methods are commonly employed to separate thulium from other rare earth elements present in the mineral ore.
  3. Reduction and Electrolysis: After purification, thulium oxide (Tm2O3) is obtained. Thulium oxide can be reduced using reactive metals, such as calcium or lithium, to produce thulium metal. Electrolysis can also be utilized to obtain pure thulium through the electrolytic reduction of thulium chloride or thulium oxide.

Applications of Thulium:

Thulium, despite its relatively limited abundance, finds applications in various fields, including:

  1. High-Temperature Superconductors: Thulium-based compounds, such as thulium barium calcium copper oxide (TBCCO), are being investigated for their potential use in high-temperature superconductors. These materials exhibit zero electrical resistance at elevated temperatures, making them valuable for energy-efficient power transmission and advanced electronic devices.
  2. Medical Imaging and Laser Technology: Thulium-doped lasers are widely used in medical imaging, dermatology, and surgical procedures. Thulium lasers emit high-energy pulses, making them suitable for applications such as skin resurfacing, hair removal, and laser lithotripsy to break down kidney stones.
  3. X-ray Sources: Thulium-170, a radioactive isotope of thulium, is used as a radiation source in medical diagnostics and industrial radiography. Thulium-170 emits gamma rays that can penetrate materials and provide detailed imaging for diagnostic purposes or flaw detection in industrial applications.
  4. Specialty Lighting: Thulium-doped lamps and phosphors are employed in specialized lighting applications. Thulium-based materials can produce high-intensity light sources used in stage lighting, film projectors, and certain industrial applications.
  5. Research and Development: Thulium’s unique magnetic and spectroscopic properties make it valuable for scientific research. It is utilized as a spectroscopic probe to study magnetic properties, investigate materials under extreme conditions, and explore the behavior of matter at the atomic level.
  6. Catalysts and Chemical Synthesis: Thulium compounds, such as thulium chloride, find applications as catalysts in organic chemistry and chemical synthesis processes.

Top 10 Countries in Thulium Production, Extraction, and Resource Capacity

the top 10 countries in terms of thulium production, extraction, and resources capacity:

RankCountryProduction (Metric Tons)Extraction Capacity (Metric Tons)Resources Capacity (Metric Tons)
1China701001500
2United States2030500
3Russia1525400
4Australia1220350
5Brazil1018300
6India815250
7Canada712200
8Malaysia610180
9Sweden58150
10Greenland35100
the top 10 countries in terms of thulium production, extraction, and resources capacity:

10 interesting facts about Thulium Properties:

Here are 10 interesting facts about the element Thulium:

  1. Rare Earth Element: Thulium is classified as a rare earth element, which is a group of elements that are typically found in the Earth’s crust. Despite its classification as “rare,” thulium is not exceedingly scarce compared to other elements in the group.
  2. Named After a Mythical Land: Thulium is named after the mythical land of Thule, described by ancient Greek and Roman geographers as the northernmost part of the world. The element was named in honor of its rarity and its discovery in the Earth’s “northernmost” location at the time.
  3. Soft and Malleable: Thulium is a soft and malleable metal, which means it can be easily shaped or bent without breaking. Its softness allows for easy machining and shaping, making it useful in certain manufacturing processes.
  4. Paramagnetic Properties: Thulium exhibits paramagnetic properties, meaning it is weakly attracted to magnetic fields. This property makes it useful in various magnetic applications, such as in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and magnetic sensors.
  5. Nuclear Applications: Thulium-170, a radioactive isotope of thulium, is used in medical diagnostics and industrial radiography. It emits gamma rays that can penetrate materials, allowing for detailed imaging and flaw detection.
  6. Laser Applications: Thulium-doped lasers are employed in various medical and scientific applications. These lasers emit high-energy pulses and are used for skin treatments, hair removal, and lithotripsy (breaking down kidney stones).
  7. High-Temperature Superconductivity: Thulium-based compounds, such as TBCCO (thulium barium calcium copper oxide), are being studied for their potential use in high-temperature superconductors. These materials exhibit zero electrical resistance at elevated temperatures, enabling more efficient power transmission.
  8. Optical Properties: Thulium has unique optical properties, including the ability to absorb and emit specific wavelengths of light. This makes it useful in optical devices, fiber optics, and certain types of glass and lenses.
  9. Biological Role: Thulium does not have any known biological role and is not considered essential for living organisms. It is not found naturally in significant quantities in biological systems.
  10. Limited Commercial Uses: Thulium has relatively limited commercial applications compared to some other rare earth elements. Its primary uses are in specialized lasers, high-temperature superconductors, X-ray sources, and certain lighting applications.

10 common but interesting frequently asked questions (FAQs) about Thulium Properties:

Is thulium a naturally occurring element?

Yes, thulium is a naturally occurring element found in small amounts in the Earth’s crust. It is classified as a rare earth element.

What is the significance of thulium in medical applications?

Thulium is used in medical applications, particularly in laser technology. Thulium-doped lasers are employed in procedures such as skin resurfacing, hair removal, and kidney stone treatment.

Can thulium be used in renewable energy technologies?

Thulium itself does not have direct applications in renewable energy technologies. However, thulium-based compounds are being investigated for potential use in high-temperature superconductors, which could contribute to more efficient energy transmission.

Is thulium a hazardous element?

Thulium is generally considered to have low toxicity. However, like other rare earth elements, it should be handled with care to minimize any potential health or environmental risks associated with its extraction and processing.

Is thulium used in everyday consumer products?

Thulium is not commonly used in everyday consumer products due to its limited commercial applications. Its uses are primarily confined to specialized fields such as lasers, lighting, and certain scientific and medical applications.

Can thulium magnets be used in electronics?

Thulium magnets are not commonly used in electronics. While thulium exhibits magnetic properties, its use in magnets is limited due to its rarity and higher cost compared to other magnetic materials.

How does thulium contribute to scientific research?

Thulium’s unique properties, such as its spectroscopic and magnetic characteristics, make it valuable for scientific research. It is utilized as a spectroscopic probe to study magnetic phenomena and explore the behavior of matter at the atomic level.

Is thulium found in space or celestial bodies?

Thulium has been detected in trace amounts in some meteorites. However, its presence in significant quantities in space or celestial bodies has not been confirmed.

Can thulium be recycled or reused?

Thulium can be recycled from certain waste sources, such as discarded lasers or electronic devices containing thulium-based components. Recycling rare earth elements helps to conserve resources and reduce environmental impact.

Are there any substitutes for thulium in its various applications?

For certain applications, there are alternative materials that can be used instead of thulium. However, the specific properties and characteristics of thulium make it difficult to find direct substitutes in some areas, such as certain laser technologies or high-temperature superconductors.

Free MCQs for GK and Exam preparations
Free MCQs for GK and Exam preparations

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