Yttrium is a chemical element with the symbol Y and atomic number 39. It is a transition metal that shares some properties with the lanthanide series of elements.
Here are some key properties of yttrium:
Physical properties of yttrium
- Appearance: Yttrium is a silvery-metallic element that is relatively soft and malleable.
- Density: The density of yttrium is about 4.47 grams per cubic centimeter.
- Melting Point: Yttrium has a relatively high melting point of 1526 degrees Celsius (2779 degrees Fahrenheit).
- Boiling Point: The boiling point of yttrium is 3336 degrees Celsius (6037 degrees Fahrenheit).
- State at Room Temperature: Yttrium is a solid at room temperature.
Chemical properties of yttrium
- Reactivity: Yttrium is a moderately reactive metal and slowly reacts with oxygen, water, and acids.
- Oxidation States: Yttrium commonly exhibits a +3 oxidation state, meaning it tends to lose three electrons to form ions (Y3+).
- Electronegativity: Yttrium has an electronegativity of 1.22 on the Pauling scale, indicating a moderate affinity for electrons.
- Stability: Yttrium is relatively stable in dry air, as it forms a protective oxide layer on its surface.
Occurrence and Uses
- Abundance: Yttrium is found in small amounts in the Earth’s crust, primarily associated with minerals such as xenotime and monazite.
- Alloying Agent: Yttrium is often used as an alloying element to improve the strength and heat resistance of other metals. For example, it is used in alloys with aluminum to create high-strength materials for aerospace applications.
- Phosphors and LEDs: Yttrium compounds, particularly yttrium oxide and yttrium vanadate, are used as phosphors in television screens and energy-efficient LED lighting due to their ability to emit light of specific colors when excited by electrons.
- Lasers: Yttrium-aluminum-garnet (YAG) crystals doped with rare earth elements such as neodymium are widely used in solid-state lasers for industrial, medical, and military applications.
- Catalysts: Yttrium compounds can act as catalysts in various chemical reactions, including those involved in petroleum refining and polymerization processes.
- Nuclear Applications: Yttrium-90, a radioactive isotope of yttrium, is used in targeted radiation therapy for the treatment of certain cancers.
It’s worth noting that yttrium’s properties and applications are diverse and can vary depending on its specific compounds and uses.