Yttrium: the essentials

Yttrium has a silvery-metallic lustre. Yttrium turnings ignite in air. Yttrium is found in most rare-earth minerals. Moon rocks contain yttrium and yttrium is used as a "phosphor" to produce the red colour in television screens.

This sample is from The Elements Collection, an attractive and safely packaged collection of the 92 naturally occurring elements that is available for sale.

Yttrium: historical information

Yttrium was discovered by Johann Gadolin in 1794 at Finland. Origin of name: named after the village of "Ytterby" near Vaxholm in Sweden.

Yttria (yttrium oxide, Y2O3), was discovered by Johann Gadolin in 1794 in a mineral called gadolinite from Ytterby. Ytterby is the site of a quarry in Sweden which contains many unusual minerals containing erbium, terbium, and ytterbium as well as yttrium. Friedrich Wohler obtained the impure element in 1828 by reduction of the anhydrous chloride (YCl3) with potassium.

Yttrium around us Read more »

Yttrium has no biological role.

Yttrium is never found in nature as the free element. Yttrium is found in the ores monazite sand [(Ce, La, etc.)PO4] and bastn°site [(Ce, La, etc.)(CO3)F], ores containing small amounts of all the rare earth metals, as well as in some other ores. It is difficult to separate from other rare earth elements. Lunar rock samples show a relatively high yttrium content.

Abundances for yttrium in a number of different environments. More abundance data »
Location ppb by weight ppb by atoms Links
Universe 7 0.1 Chemical elements abundance by weight in the universe on a miniature periodic table spark table
Crustal rocks 29000 6700 Chemical elements abundance by weight in the earth's crust on a miniature periodic table spark table
Human (no data) ppb by weight (no data) atoms relative to C = 1000000 Chemical elements abundance by weight in humans on a miniature periodic table spark table

Physical properties Read more »

Heat properties Read more »

Crystal structure Read more »

The solid state structure of yttrium is: hcp (hexagonal close-packed).

Yttrium: orbital properties Read more »

Yttrium atoms have 39 electrons and the shell structure is The ground state electronic configuration of neutral Yttrium is [Kr].4d1.5s2 and the term symbol of Yttrium is 2D3/2.


Isolation: yttrium metal is available commercially so it is not normally necesary to make it in the laboratory. Yttrium is found in lathanoid minerals and the extraction of the yttrium and the lanthanoid metals from the ores is highly complex. Initially, the metals are extractedas salts from the ores by extraction with sulphuric acid (H2SO4), hydrochloric acid (HCl), and sodium hydroxide (NaOH). Modern purification techniques for these lanthanoid salt mixtures involve selective complexation techniques, solvent extractions, and ion exchange chromatography.

Pure yttrium is available through the reduction of YF3 with calcium metal.

2YF3 + 3Ca → 2Y + 3CaF2

Yttrium isotopes Read more »

Table. Stables isotopes of yttrium.
Isotope Mass
(atom %)
spin (I)
moment (μ/μN)
89Y 89.905849 (3) 100 1/2 -0.1374153

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