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

Yttrium Properties

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

Yttrium – An Essential Element for Modern Applications

Introduction to Yttrium:

Yttrium is a chemical element classified as a transition metal and is represented by the symbol “Y” in the periodic table. It was named after the village of Ytterby in Sweden, where it was discovered. Yttrium is a silvery-white, lustrous metal that is relatively stable in air but can react with water and acids. It is widely used in various applications due to its unique properties.

Table:

Atomic NumberSymbolAtomic WeightValency
39Y88.9063

Explanation of the Table:

  • Atomic Number: Yttrium has an atomic number of 39, which indicates the number of protons in its nucleus. It is the 39th element in the periodic table.
  • Symbol: Yttrium is represented by the chemical symbol “Y”. Chemical symbols are used to represent elements in a concise and standardized manner.
  • Atomic Weight: The atomic weight of yttrium is approximately 88.906 atomic mass units (u). It represents the average mass of yttrium atoms, taking into account the different isotopes and their relative abundances.
  • Valency: Yttrium typically exhibits a valency of 3. Valency refers to the combining capacity of an element, indicating the number of bonds it can form with other atoms. In the case of yttrium, it tends to form chemical compounds by losing three electrons.

Yttrium’s unique properties make it valuable in various fields, including electronics, lasers, ceramics, and medical applications. It is used as a component in phosphors for color televisions and fluorescent lamps, as well as in superconductors and electrodes for solid oxide fuel cells. Additionally, yttrium oxide is employed as a catalyst in the petroleum industry.

Yttrium : Discovery, Usage, and Key Points

Discovery:

Yttrium was first discovered in 1794 by a Swedish chemist named Johan Gadolin. While examining a heavy black mineral sample called ytterbite, Gadolin noticed an unusual earthy substance that he named “yttria” after the village of Ytterby in Sweden where the mineral was found. Later, in 1828, Friedrich Wöhler, a German chemist, isolated yttrium metal from yttria for the first time.

Yttrium Properties
Yttrium was first discovered in 1794 by a Swedish chemist named Johan Gadolin

Modern Usage:

Yttrium has found diverse applications across several industries due to its unique properties. Here are some key areas where yttrium is utilized:

  1. Electronics and Technology: Yttrium compounds are crucial components in the production of phosphors used in color televisions and fluorescent lamps. Yttrium-based phosphors emit bright, pure colors when excited by electrons, enhancing the visual quality of displays. Yttrium is also used in the production of cathode-ray tubes and superconductors.
  2. Lasers and Optics: Yttrium-aluminum-garnet (YAG) crystals, doped with yttrium ions, are widely employed in laser technology. YAG lasers have applications in industrial cutting, welding, and engraving, as well as medical procedures such as laser surgery. Yttrium is also used in the production of camera lenses and other optical components due to its high refractive index.
  3. Ceramics and Glass: Yttrium-stabilized zirconia (YSZ) is a durable ceramic material that finds applications in industries such as aerospace, automotive, and biomedical. It is used in thermal barrier coatings, solid oxide fuel cells, and artificial hip joints due to its high strength, thermal resistance, and biocompatibility. Yttrium oxide is also added to glass to improve its heat resistance and optical properties.
  4. Catalysts: Yttrium compounds, particularly yttrium oxide, are employed as catalysts in the petroleum and chemical industries. They help enhance the efficiency of various chemical reactions, such as cracking hydrocarbons and reducing emissions in catalytic converters.

Important Points to Remember about Discovery and Usage:

Table: Important Points to Remember about Discovery and Usage
Yttrium was discovered by Johan Gadolin in 1794.
The mineral ytterbite, found in Ytterby, Sweden, led to its discovery.
Friedrich Wöhler isolated yttrium metal from yttria in 1828.
Yttrium is utilized in electronics, lasers, ceramics, and catalysts.
It is a key component in phosphors for TVs and fluorescent lamps.
Yttrium-aluminum-garnet (YAG) crystals are used in laser technology.
Yttrium-stabilized zirconia (YSZ) finds applications in various industries.
Yttrium compounds improve the properties of glass and ceramics.
Yttrium oxide serves as a catalyst in the petroleum industry.
Important Points to Remember about Discovery and Usage:

Yttrium Properties and Key Points

Properties of Yttrium:

Yttrium possesses several notable properties that contribute to its wide range of applications. Here are the key properties of yttrium:

  1. Physical Properties:
    • Appearance: Yttrium is a silvery-white, lustrous metal.
    • Density: It has a density of 4.47 grams per cubic centimeter, making it relatively dense.
    • Melting and Boiling Points: Yttrium has a high melting point of 1526 degrees Celsius (2779 degrees Fahrenheit) and a boiling point of 3336 degrees Celsius (6037 degrees Fahrenheit).
    • Crystal Structure: Yttrium adopts a hexagonal close-packed crystal structure at room temperature.
  2. Chemical Properties:
    • Reactivity: Yttrium is relatively stable in air but can react with oxygen, nitrogen, and water vapor at elevated temperatures. It reacts slowly with cold water and reacts readily with acids.
    • Oxidation States: Yttrium commonly exhibits a +3 oxidation state, losing three electrons to form compounds. However, it can also occur in other oxidation states, such as +2 and +4, in specific compounds.
    • Corrosion Resistance: Yttrium is resistant to corrosion and oxidation, which makes it valuable in applications where materials need to withstand harsh environments.
  3. Magnetic and Electrical Properties:
    • Magnetic Properties: Yttrium is paramagnetic, meaning it is weakly attracted to magnetic fields.
    • Electrical Conductivity: Yttrium is a relatively good electrical conductor, although not as conductive as some other metals.
  4. Isotopes:
    • Yttrium has stable isotopes, with yttrium-89 being the most abundant.
    • Yttrium-90, a radioactive isotope, is used in medical applications, particularly in targeted radiation therapy for certain types of cancer.

Important Points to Remember about Properties:

Table: Important Points to Remember about Properties
Yttrium is a silvery-white, lustrous metal.
It has a density of 4.47 g/cm³.
Yttrium has a high melting point of 1526°C.
It adopts a hexagonal close-packed crystal structure.
Yttrium reacts with oxygen, nitrogen, and water vapor.
Yttrium commonly exhibits a +3 oxidation state.
It is resistant to corrosion and oxidation.
Yttrium is weakly attracted to magnetic fields.
Yttrium is a relatively good electrical conductor.
Yttrium-89 is the most abundant stable isotope.
Important Points to Remember about Properties:

Yttrium Isotopes and Compounds – Exploring Variations and Applications

Isotopes of Yttrium:

Yttrium has several isotopes, including stable and radioactive isotopes. Isotopes are variants of an element with the same number of protons but different numbers of neutrons in the nucleus. Here are some key isotopes of yttrium:

  1. Yttrium-89 (89Y):
    • Yttrium-89 is the most abundant stable isotope of yttrium.
    • It has 50 neutrons in the nucleus and accounts for approximately 100% of naturally occurring yttrium.
  2. Yttrium-88 (88Y):
    • Yttrium-88 is another stable isotope of yttrium.
    • It has 49 neutrons in the nucleus and occurs in trace amounts in natural yttrium.
  3. Yttrium-90 (90Y):
    • Yttrium-90 is a radioactive isotope of yttrium.
    • It has 51 neutrons in the nucleus and undergoes radioactive decay.
    • Yttrium-90 is utilized in medical applications, particularly in targeted radiation therapy for the treatment of certain types of cancer.

Compounds of Yttrium:

Yttrium forms various compounds with other elements due to its reactivity and ability to change oxidation states. Here are some notable compounds of yttrium:

  1. Yttrium Oxide (Y2O3):
    • Yttrium oxide, also known as yttria, is one of the most important compounds of yttrium.
    • It is a white solid and is used in the production of phosphors for color televisions and fluorescent lamps.
    • Yttrium oxide is also employed as a catalyst in the petroleum industry and as a component in ceramics and glass for their improved properties.
  2. Yttrium Aluminum Garnet (YAG):
    • Yttrium aluminum garnet, or YAG, is a compound composed of yttrium, aluminum, and oxygen.
    • It is a transparent crystal that is doped with rare earth elements, such as neodymium or erbium, to create laser materials.
    • YAG crystals are widely used in laser technology, including industrial cutting, welding, and medical applications like laser surgery.
  3. Yttrium Barium Copper Oxide (YBa2Cu3O7):
    • Yttrium barium copper oxide, often abbreviated as YBCO, is a high-temperature superconductor compound.
    • It exhibits superconductivity at temperatures above the boiling point of liquid nitrogen (-196 degrees Celsius).
    • YBCO is employed in various applications, including in the construction of superconducting magnets, power cables, and fault current limiters.

Thermal, Physical, Chemical, and Magnetic Properties of Yttrium

Thermal Properties:

  1. Melting Point: Yttrium has a relatively high melting point of 1526 degrees Celsius (2779 degrees Fahrenheit). This property makes it suitable for applications requiring resistance to high temperatures.
  2. Boiling Point: Yttrium has a boiling point of 3336 degrees Celsius (6037 degrees Fahrenheit), indicating its ability to withstand extreme heat.
  3. Thermal Conductivity: Yttrium exhibits relatively low thermal conductivity, which means it is not an efficient conductor of heat.
  4. Coefficient of Thermal Expansion: Yttrium has a coefficient of thermal expansion that is comparable to other metals, allowing it to expand and contract with temperature changes without significant distortion.

Physical Properties:

  1. Density: Yttrium has a density of 4.47 grams per cubic centimeter. This makes it a relatively dense metal.
  2. Appearance: Yttrium is a silvery-white, lustrous metal with a metallic sheen.
  3. Crystal Structure: Yttrium adopts a hexagonal close-packed crystal structure at room temperature, which influences its physical and mechanical properties.
  4. Hardness: Yttrium is a relatively soft metal with a Mohs hardness of 4 to 5. It can be scratched by harder substances.

Chemical Properties:

  1. Reactivity: Yttrium is relatively stable in air due to the formation of a protective oxide layer on its surface. However, it reacts slowly with cold water and readily reacts with acids, such as hydrochloric acid and sulfuric acid.
  2. Oxidation States: Yttrium primarily exhibits a +3 oxidation state, where it loses three electrons to form compounds. However, it can also occur in other oxidation states, such as +2 and +4, in specific compounds.
  3. Corrosion Resistance: Yttrium is resistant to corrosion and oxidation, contributing to its durability and longevity in various applications.

Magnetic Properties:

Yttrium is classified as paramagnetic, meaning it is weakly attracted to magnetic fields. Its magnetic susceptibility is relatively low compared to ferromagnetic materials. Yttrium’s magnetic properties make it suitable for applications where magnetism is desirable but not excessively strong.

Methods of Production and Applications of Yttrium

Methods of Production of Yttrium:

Yttrium is primarily obtained from various minerals, such as xenotime and euxenite, which contain yttrium compounds. The methods of production involve several steps, including extraction, purification, and reduction. Here are the common methods used for the production of yttrium:

  1. Mining and Extraction: Yttrium-containing minerals are mined from the Earth’s crust. The ores are typically crushed and ground to liberate the yttrium compounds.
  2. Hydrometallurgical Processes: The crushed ores are treated with acids, such as sulfuric acid or hydrochloric acid, to dissolve the yttrium compounds and separate them from other impurities. This process results in the formation of yttrium salts.
  3. Solvent Extraction: Solvent extraction techniques are employed to separate yttrium from other rare earth elements present in the yttrium salts. Organic compounds called extractants are used to selectively extract yttrium ions.
  4. Reduction and Refining: The yttrium ions are then converted into yttrium oxide (Y2O3) through precipitation or calcination. Further refining processes may be employed to obtain pure yttrium metal.

Applications of Yttrium:

Yttrium’s unique properties make it valuable in various industries and applications. Here are some key applications of yttrium:

  1. Electronics and Technology:
    • Yttrium compounds are used in the production of phosphors for color televisions and fluorescent lamps, enhancing their brightness and color quality.
    • Yttrium-iron-garnet (YIG) is employed in microwave and telecommunication devices due to its high electrical resistivity and low magnetic damping.
  2. Lasers and Optics:
    • Yttrium-aluminum-garnet (YAG) crystals doped with rare earth elements are widely used in laser technology, including industrial cutting, welding, and medical applications like laser surgery.
    • Yttrium vanadate (YVO4) crystals are utilized as laser materials for solid-state lasers, particularly in the green and infrared regions of the spectrum.
  3. Ceramics and Coatings:
    • Yttrium-stabilized zirconia (YSZ) is a durable ceramic material with applications in thermal barrier coatings, solid oxide fuel cells, and artificial hip joints.
    • Yttria-stabilized zirconia is also used as a refractory material in crucibles, nozzles, and furnace linings due to its high melting point and resistance to chemical attack.
  4. Catalysts:
    • Yttrium compounds, such as yttrium oxide (Y2O3), are employed as catalysts in the petroleum and chemical industries. They facilitate various chemical reactions, including cracking hydrocarbons and reducing emissions in catalytic converters.
  5. Magnets and Superconductors:
    • Yttrium is used as an additive in the production of permanent magnets, enhancing their magnetic properties.
    • Yttrium barium copper oxide (YBCO) is a high-temperature superconductor that finds applications in power cables, fault current limiters, and superconducting magnets.

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

the top 10 countries in terms of production, extraction, and resource capacity of yttrium presented in a tabular format:

CountryYttrium Production (Metric Tons)Yttrium Extraction (Metric Tons)Yttrium Resource Capacity (Metric Tons)
China2,8005,00022,000
Australia1002001,400
United States601201,000
Russia50100800
Malaysia3060400
India2550300
Canada2040250
Vietnam1530200
Greenland1020150
Brazil510100
the top 10 countries in terms of production, extraction, and resource capacity of yttrium presented in a tabular format:

10 interesting facts about Yttrium Properties:

Here are 10 interesting facts about yttrium:

  1. Discovery: Yttrium was discovered by the Swedish chemist Carl Gustaf Mosander in 1828 while he was studying the mineral gadolinite. He named the new element after the village of Ytterby in Sweden, where the mineral was found.
  2. Rare Earth Element: Yttrium is classified as a rare earth element, although it is not as rare as its name suggests. It is found in relatively small quantities in the Earth’s crust.
  3. Similar Properties: Yttrium shares many chemical and physical properties with other rare earth elements. It is often found in combination with these elements in minerals.
  4. Key Component of Phosphors: Yttrium compounds are essential components of phosphors used in many electronic devices, including color televisions, computer screens, and fluorescent lamps. Yttrium-based phosphors emit bright and vivid colors when excited by electrons or ultraviolet light.
  5. Superconductor Applications: Yttrium is a crucial component in the development of high-temperature superconductors. These materials can conduct electricity with little to no resistance at relatively higher temperatures than conventional superconductors, enabling applications in various fields, such as power transmission and magnetic levitation.
  6. Medical Uses: Yttrium-90, a radioactive isotope of yttrium, is used in targeted radiation therapy for certain types of cancer. Yttrium-90 emits beta radiation, which can be directed to specific areas to destroy cancer cells.
  7. Corrosion Resistance: Yttrium exhibits excellent corrosion resistance, making it useful for coating materials that need protection against harsh environments. It can enhance the durability and lifespan of various components, such as turbine blades and engine parts.
  8. Yttrium-Aluminum-Garnet (YAG) Laser: Yttrium-aluminum-garnet (YAG) crystals doped with rare earth elements, such as neodymium or erbium, are widely used as laser materials. YAG lasers have diverse applications, including laser cutting, welding, and medical procedures.
  9. Scintillation Detectors: Yttrium aluminum perovskite crystals, known as YAP:Ce, are utilized as scintillation detectors in nuclear physics and medical imaging. They can convert incoming radiation into flashes of light, which can then be detected and analyzed.
  10. Cultural References: Yttrium’s discovery and subsequent elements named after Ytterby have had a significant impact on the periodic table’s naming conventions. Elements such as ytterbium, erbium, and terbium were named after Ytterby to honor the contributions of Swedish scientists.

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

What is yttrium used for?

Yttrium is used in various applications, including electronics, lasers, ceramics, catalysts, magnets, and medical treatments. It is employed in the production of phosphors for televisions and fluorescent lamps, as well as in lasers, superconductors, and high-temperature alloys.

Is yttrium a rare element?

Yttrium is classified as a rare earth element. While it is not as abundant as more common elements, it is not extremely rare. Yttrium is found in relatively small quantities in the Earth’s crust and is often associated with other rare earth elements in minerals.

Is yttrium toxic?

Yttrium is generally considered to be non-toxic. It does not have any known biological role in humans and is not found in significant quantities in the human body. However, like other metals, high levels of yttrium exposure may have adverse health effects, so proper safety precautions should be taken.

Can yttrium be magnetized?

Yttrium itself is paramagnetic, meaning it is weakly attracted to magnetic fields. However, when combined with other elements, such as iron or cobalt, yttrium can enhance the magnetic properties of alloys and be used in the production of magnets.

Is yttrium a radioactive element?

Yttrium has both stable and radioactive isotopes. Yttrium-89 is the most abundant stable isotope, while yttrium-90 is a radioactive isotope used in medical applications, particularly in radiation therapy for cancer treatment.

How is yttrium pronounced?

Yttrium is pronounced as “IT-ree-uhm” with the emphasis on the second syllable.

Where is yttrium found?

Yttrium is found in various minerals, including xenotime, euxenite, and gadolinite. It is also present in some uranium ores. The largest reserves of yttrium are located in China, followed by Australia, the United States, and Russia.

Can yttrium be recycled?

Yes, yttrium can be recycled. As it is used in various electronic devices and industrial applications, recycling processes can recover yttrium from discarded products or waste materials, reducing the need for new mining and extraction.

Can yttrium be alloyed with other metals?

Yes, yttrium can be alloyed with other metals, such as aluminum, magnesium, and iron, to enhance their properties. Yttrium-containing alloys can exhibit improved strength, corrosion resistance, and high-temperature stability.

How stable is yttrium in air?

Yttrium is relatively stable in air due to the formation of a protective oxide layer on its surface. This oxide layer prevents further reaction with oxygen, helping to maintain the metal’s integrity and resist corrosion.

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

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