[Kr] 4d15s2  
2, 8, 18, 9, 2
1522°C, 2772°F, 1795 K
3345°C, 6053°F, 3618 K
Johan Gadolin
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Uses and Properties

Image Explanation

Yttrium-aluminum-garnet (YAG) phosphors are one example where yttrium is combined with other elements, such as aluminum and oxygen, to create a phosphor that can convert blue light emitted by LEDs into white light.


A soft, silvery metal.


Yttrium: A Versatile Element Lighting Up Our World

Yttrium (Y), a relatively obscure element in the periodic table, has emerged as an unsung hero with a multitude of applications across diverse fields. This unassuming element, with the atomic number 39, possesses unique properties that make it indispensable in various industries. From enhancing the colors of television screens to driving innovation in renewable energy, yttrium plays a pivotal role in shaping our modern world. In this article, we will explore the fascinating and illuminating uses of yttrium.


The Elemental Basis

Before delving into the applications, let's acquaint ourselves with yttrium. Yttrium is a silvery-metallic element found in the lanthanide series of the periodic table. It was discovered in 1794 by the Swedish chemist Johan Gadolin and named after the village of Ytterby in Sweden, where the mineral containing yttrium was first found. Yttrium shares many characteristics with the lanthanides and is often considered one of the rare earth elements.


Yttrium in Television and Display Technology

One of the most well-known applications of yttrium is in television and display technology. Yttrium-aluminum-garnet (YAG) and yttrium aluminum perovskite (YAP) are compounds of yttrium that serve as phosphors in cathode ray tube (CRT) and liquid crystal display (LCD) screens. These phosphors convert the blue or ultraviolet light emitted by the electron guns in CRTs or the LED backlight in LCD screens into various colors, producing the vibrant and high-quality images we see on our screens.


Yttrium in Superconductors

Yttrium is also a crucial component in high-temperature superconductors. Superconductors are materials that can conduct electrical current with zero resistance when cooled to extremely low temperatures. Yttrium barium copper oxide (YBCO) is a well-known high-temperature superconductor, and its discovery in the late 1980s marked a breakthrough in the field of materials science. These superconductors have applications in various fields, including power generation and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machines.


Yttrium in the Lighting Industry

Yttrium oxide, a compound of yttrium, is used in the production of red phosphors for color television tubes and LED displays. These phosphors help create the red and other warm colors in displays and lighting. The use of yttrium in the lighting industry contributes to the vivid and lifelike colors we see in our electronic devices and screens.


Yttrium in the Laser Industry

Yttrium-aluminum-garnet (YAG) crystals, doped with rare earth elements like neodymium or erbium, are used in laser technology. YAG lasers have applications in various fields, including cutting and welding of metals, eye surgery, and military applications such as rangefinding and target designation.


Yttrium in Metallurgy

In metallurgy, yttrium is added to certain alloys to enhance their mechanical properties. For example, yttrium can be used in magnesium alloys to improve their strength and corrosion resistance. These alloys are used in aerospace and automotive applications where lightweight, high-strength materials are essential.


Yttrium in Nuclear Technology

Yttrium has applications in nuclear technology, particularly in the control and safety systems of nuclear reactors. Yttrium-89 isotope, a radioactive form of yttrium, is used in radiation therapy for cancer treatment, emitting positrons that can be detected by positron emission tomography (PET) scanners.


Yttrium in Ceramics

Yttrium oxide is used as a stabilizer in ceramics, particularly in the production of yttria-stabilized zirconia (YSZ). YSZ has applications in industries such as electronics, where it is used as a thermal barrier coating on turbine blades in gas turbines, or as a solid electrolyte in solid oxide fuel cells.


Yttrium in Environmental and Renewable Energy

Yttrium iron garnet (YIG) is used in microwave and radar technology. It is employed in devices known as circulators, which are crucial components in radar systems, satellites, and communication networks. These devices are responsible for directing the flow of electromagnetic signals, enabling efficient and reliable communication.

Yttrium's role in the renewable energy sector is significant, particularly in the development of phosphors for energy-efficient lighting. LED technology, which relies on yttrium-based phosphors to create white light, is a prime example of how yttrium contributes to reducing energy consumption in lighting applications.



Yttrium, a relatively lesser-known element, has found its way into an array of applications, illuminating our lives and shaping various industries. Its contributions to television and display technology have transformed our visual experiences, making screens brighter and more colorful. In fields such as superconductivity and laser technology, yttrium's unique properties have opened up new avenues for scientific discovery and technological innovation.

From metallurgy to nuclear technology, ceramics to environmental and renewable energy, yttrium plays a pivotal role in multiple industries, contributing to the advancement of technology, medicine, and environmental sustainability. As we continue to explore and harness the potential of yttrium, its versatile applications will undoubtedly continue to grow, illuminating our world and enhancing our quality of life. Yttrium's journey from obscurity to indispensability is a testament to the power of scientific exploration and innovation in shaping our modern world.


The periodic table, a masterful arrangement of elements, holds within its rows and columns the stories of countless discoveries, each contributing to the advancement of science and technology. Yttrium (Y), a lesser-known element, has a history that remains relatively hidden from the mainstream narrative of chemistry. Yet, its journey from an obscure mineral to a key component in a wide range of applications is a fascinating tale of exploration, innovation, and scientific intrigue. In this article, we will unearth the hidden history of Yttrium and shed light on the significant role it plays in our modern world.


The Quest Begins: Yttrium's Discovery

The story of Yttrium begins in a remote village in Sweden. In 1787, Carl Axel Arrhenius, a Swedish army lieutenant, discovered an unusual mineral in the village of Ytterby, which is located near Stockholm. This mineral, known as gadolinite, was named after Johan Gadolin, the Finnish chemist and mineralogist who analyzed it.

Gadolinite contained an assortment of rare earth elements, including Yttrium. However, it was not until 1794 that Yttrium was officially isolated by the Finnish chemist Johan Gadolin himself, after whom the mineral was named. This discovery marked the birth of Yttrium as a distinct element.


Early Days of Exploration

Yttrium's presence in gadolinite was just the beginning. Over the years, other chemists and scientists began to explore its properties, and its unique characteristics soon began to emerge. Yttrium was found to be a soft, silvery-white, and highly reactive element with similarities to other elements in the rare earth group.

In the early 19th century, Yttrium became a focal point of scientific investigation. Prominent chemists, including Anders Gustaf Ekeberg, Friedrich Wöhler, and Heinrich Rose, played key roles in isolating and characterizing Yttrium. Rose is credited with developing improved analytical techniques that allowed for more accurate determination of Yttrium's atomic mass and properties.


The Elusive Element Finds Its Place

In the 19th century, Yttrium was recognized as an essential component in the emerging field of analytical chemistry. It was used in analytical techniques to identify and quantify various elements. Its role in chemical analysis became invaluable, and it contributed to the refinement of the periodic table.

Yttrium was also used in the production of new compounds. One of its notable applications was in the creation of yttrium oxide (Y2O3), which played a crucial role in the development of the Yttrium-Aluminum-Garnet (YAG) laser, a significant advancement in laser technology.


Yttrium's Rise in the Modern Era

The 20th century brought about a new chapter in Yttrium's history, with its role expanding across various industries. Some key milestones include:

  1. Television and Display Technology: Yttrium was incorporated into the television and display industry as Yttrium-Aluminum-Garnet (YAG) phosphors. These phosphors were used to enhance color quality in television screens, contributing to the vibrant and lifelike images we see on our screens today.

  2. Superconductors: In the late 1980s, Yttrium barium copper oxide (YBCO) was discovered, marking a breakthrough in high-temperature superconductivity. YBCO became a critical material for various applications, including power generation and medical imaging, where superconductors played a pivotal role.

  3. Environmental and Renewable Energy: Yttrium finds its place in renewable energy technology, especially in LED lighting. Yttrium-based phosphors are used to create white light in LEDs, contributing to energy-efficient lighting solutions and reducing energy consumption.

  4. High-Intensity Lasers: Yttrium is used in Yttrium-Aluminum-Garnet (YAG) lasers, which have applications in cutting, welding, and medical procedures such as eye surgery. These lasers offer precision and efficiency in various fields.


Unearthing the Future: Yttrium's Potential

As we delve deeper into the 21st century, Yttrium continues to shine as a versatile and essential element in multiple fields. Its applications in technology, energy, and healthcare are expanding, and it is contributing to a more sustainable and interconnected world.

In the field of advanced materials, Yttrium's properties are harnessed to develop novel compounds and alloys. Its role in nuclear technology and radiation therapy has significant potential in improving healthcare and cancer treatment.


The Future of Yttrium in Technology

Yttrium-based materials will play a crucial role in developing advanced materials for electronic devices and high-temperature applications. As we seek energy-efficient solutions, Yttrium's presence in LED lighting and renewable energy will become even more important.

Yttrium's role in superconductivity holds promise for the development of more efficient power transmission and storage systems, ultimately contributing to a cleaner and greener energy landscape.


Unlocking Yttrium's Potential in Healthcare

Yttrium-90, a radioactive isotope of Yttrium, is used in targeted radionuclide therapy for cancer treatment. This therapy offers a precise and localized approach to treating tumors, minimizing damage to surrounding healthy tissues.

Yttrium-based materials are also used in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), a critical diagnostic tool in healthcare. As MRI technology continues to advance, Yttrium's contributions will become even more significant in improving patient care.


The history of Yttrium is a tale of discovery, innovation, and adaptation. From its initial isolation in the small Swedish village of Ytterby to its current role in shaping technology, energy, and healthcare, Yttrium has quietly but significantly contributed to our modern world.

As we continue to unearth the potential of Yttrium, its future applications are poised to revolutionize various industries, making them more efficient, sustainable, and interconnected. Yttrium, once hidden in the annals of chemistry, now stands as a beacon of versatility and potential, illuminating the path to a brighter and more advanced world.

Atomic Data

Atomic Radiues, Non-bonded (A): 2.32
Electron Affinity (kJ mol-1): 29.621
Covalent Radiues (A): 1.76
Electronegativity (Pauling Scale): 1.22
Ionisation Energies (kJ mol-1) 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th
599.878 1179.437 1979.88 5846.722 7429 8973 11192 12447

Oxidation States and Isotopes

Common oxidation states 3
Isotope Atomic Mass Natural Abundance Half Life Mode of Decay
89Y 88.906 100 - -

Supply Risk

Relative Supply Risk: 9.5
Crustal Abundance (ppm): 33
Recycle Rate (%): <10
Production Conc.(%) : 97
Top 3 Producers:
1) China
2) Russia
3) Malaysia
Top 3 Reserve Holders:
1) China
2) CIS Countries (inc. Russia)
3) USA
Substitutability: High
Political Stability of Top Producer: 24.1
Political Stability of Top Reserve Holder: 24.1

Pressure and Temperature Data

Specific Heat Capacity: 298
Shear Modulus: 25.6
Young Modulus: 63.5
Bulk Modulus: 41.2
Pressure 400k Pressure 600k Pressure 800k Pressure 1000k Pressure 1200k Pressure 1400k Pressure 1600k Pressure 1800k Pressure 2000k Pressure 2200k Pressure 2400k
- - - 6.66 x 10-11 2.96 x 10-7 0.000117 0.0102 0.316 4.27 35.9 41.2



The Yttrium is the first of the d-block elements in the fifth period of the periodic table located between scandium and zirconium. This rare metal is a transition metal and is less electronegative than lutetium. Yttrium has several isotopes. The most stable is Yttrium-89. However, the other isotopes are unstable. Among the rare earth elements, yttrium behaves chemically in the same way as lanthanide metals. Yttrium oxides are manufactured in a variety of methods. They can be manufactured in solutions, powders, or denser pellets. Yttrium is an important ingredient in a superconductor. This means that it can keep an electric current going for long periods of time, without being cooled. But it is not very easy to work with at extremely high temperatures. Yttrium is very difficult to extract. There are some methods that can be used to isolate yttrium, but they can be very expensive.

The discovery of yttrium in the 18th century was a fascinating event. It is known that it was isolated and analyzed by chemists in the early 19th century, but how exactly was it discovered? In 1787, army Lieutenant Carl Axel Arrhenius found a strange coal-like substance in a quarry in Ytterby, Sweden. He sent the sample to a chemist in Finland for analysis.

Arrhenius believed that he had discovered a new mineral. His sample contained yttrium oxide. But the sample could not be reduced with charcoal.

Arrhenius passed the sample to Johan Gadolin of the University of Abo in Finland. Gadolin subsequently found a new oxide in the Arrhenius' sample.

Gadolin named the new element yttrium and published a paper about the discovery.

Yttrium is a rare earth element that is found in various minerals. Yttrium oxides are mainly manufactured in China. However, it does not normally appear in human tissue. It is commercially extracted from bastnasite. In some regions of the solar system, it is more abundant, and it can be found in rocks brought back from the Moon. The abundance varies among regions, but is estimated to range from 28 to 70 parts per million. This element is found in monazite, which is a variety of soil that contains rare earth elements. This mineral is found in many different places throughout the world.

It is a silvery and soft metallic transition metal. Yttrium’s magnetic susceptibility is temperature independent. Instead, it is added to other materials to make them more resistant to oxidation and wear. Yttrium is a soft, silvery-white metal with a metallic luster. It is an intermediate conductor of electricity and heat. A common form of yttrium is the phosphor Yttrium has a high latent heat of vaporization of 363 kJ/mol and is very toxic. Some yttrium compounds are radioactive. Like many other rare earth elements, yttrium has an electronegativity value of 1.22. This means that the number of electrons that are able to occupy orbitals increases when a negative ion forms.

The atomic radius of yttrium is 212 pm. Its melting point is 1526ºC. Yttrium can be dissolved in acids to produce yttrium halides. The most important compound of yttrium is yttrium oxide, or Y2O3. This oxide is superconducting, meaning that it can conduct electricity without any resistance at temperatures below minus 178 degrees Celsius. However, it can become unstable in air at lower temperatures, and can even ignite if heated. In order to keep yttrium in a superconducting state, it is doped with erbium or europium.

Yttrium is found widespread use in many applications. The applications include a wide range of uses from health care to consumer electronics. Until recently, it was the primary component of television sets.

There are numerous benefits of using yttrium, especially when it comes to its use in phosphors. These phosphors are used in television sets and computer monitors. They provide white and grey colours.

Aside from television and computer monitors, yttrium is also used in optical coatings. Its oxide is widely used in ceramics and insulators.

One of the most popular applications for yttrium is in the form of nanoparticles. These particles are often used in bioimaging, anticancer therapy, and photodynamic therapies. Yttrium oxide nanoparticles have also been found to inhibit bacterial cell growth.

Yttrium is often used to make high-temperature superconductors such as, Yttrium Barium Copper Oxide or, YBCO. This material can operate at temperatures of over 90 Kelvin. It is a chemical that has several applications. One of its most common uses is in the production of phosphors. These phosphors are used to create the red coloration found in televisions and color television sets. Another application is in the manufacture of lasers.

Yttrium is used in a variety of alloys, including those that increase the strength of metals and reduce corrosion. It is also used as a catalyst for polymerization, such as ethylene polymerization.

In addition, yttrium is widely used in jet engine coatings. Despite its importance in industry, it is rarely used on its own.


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