Chemical reactions of the elements
Reaction of ytterbium with air
Ytterbium metal tarnishes slowly in air and burns readily to form ytterbium (III) oxide, Yb2O3.
4Yb + 3O2 → 2Yb2O3
Reaction of ytterbium with water
The silvery white metal ytterbium is quite electropositive and reacts slowly with cold water and quite quickly with hot water to form ytterbium hydroxide, Yb(OH)3, and hydrogen gas (H2).
2Yb(s) + 6H2O(g) → 2Yb(OH)3(aq) + 3H2(g)
Reaction of ytterbium with the halogens
Ytterbium metal reacts with all the halogens to form ytterbium(III) halides. So, it reacts with fluorine, F2, chlorine, Cl2, bromine, I2, and iodine, I2, to form respectively ytterbium(III) bromide, YbF3, ytterbium(III) chloride, YbCl3, ytterbium(III) bromide, YbBr3, and ytterbium(III) iodide, YbI3.
2Yb(s) + 3F2(g) → 2YbF3(s) [white]
2Yb(s) + 3Cl2(g) → 2YbCl3(s) [white]
2Yb(s) + 3Br2(g) → 2YbBr3(s) [white]
2Yb(s) + 3I2(g) → 2YbI3(s) [white]
Reaction of ytterbium with acids
Ytterbium metal dissolves readily in dilute sulphuric acid to form solutions containing the colourless aquated Yb(III) ion together with hydrogen gas, H2. It is quite likely that Yb3+(aq) exists as largely the complex ion [Yb(OH2)9]3+
2Yb(s) + 3H2SO4(aq) → 2Yb3+(aq) + 3SO42-(aq) + 3H2(g)
Reaction of ytterbium with bases