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Element Fact
In 1961, the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry adopted the isotope carbon-12 as the basis of atomic weight, which has a mass of exactly 12.000 atomic mass unit.

Yttrium, Y

yttrium sample

Atomic number: 39
Atomic mass: 88.90585(2)
Natural abundance: 31 ppm
89Y (88.905848) - 100%

History and Production

Derive from Yitterby, a village in Sweden. In 1794, J. Gadolin examined a mineral from a quarry at Ytterby, near Stockholm and isolated a mixture of oxides which he thought was a new oxide. The sample, in fact, contained a mixture of rare earth metal compounds, among other elements. This fact was later discovered by C.G. Mosander in 1843 of which yttrium being the most basic one. Other elements that have been identified belong to the so called rare earth metals, such as erbium, terbium and ytterbium. All the names are derived from the village where the mineral was first discovered. The metal yttrium itself, in impure form, was first isolated by F. Wohler in 1828 by the reduction of the trichloride with potassium metal. Yttrium always exist alongside the rare-earth minerals (lanthanide minerals). It is usually extracted among other metals by means of fractional crystallizations and ion-exhange techniques. The metal can also be isolated by the reduction of its fluoride with calcium metal. It is used in electronics to produce the red color on the television screens and microwave filters (such as in radar). Addition of small amounts of yttrium improves properties of certain alloys such as those of aluminium and magnesium. In addition, the compound yttrium aluminium garnet (Y3Al5O12) is used as a gemstone (artificial or simulated diamond).

Physical Data

It has silvery metallic luster in appearance. Finely divide powder react violently in air.

Interatomic distance: 355.2 pm
Melting point: 1522C
Boiling point: 3345C
Thermal conductivity/Wm-1K-1: 17.2 (27C)
Density/kgm-3: 4469 (20C)

Standard Thermodynamic Data (atomic gas)

Enthalpy of formation: 421.3 kJ/mol
Gibbs free energy of formation: 381.1 kJ/mol
Entropy: 179.5 J/mol K
Heat capacity: 25.9 J/mol K

Electronic data

Electronic configuration: [Kr] 4d1 5s2
Term symbol: 2D3/2
Electron affinity: 29.6210 kJ/mol   Electronegativity (Pauline): 1.22
Ionization energy (first, second, third): 599.859, 1180.98, 1979.88 kJ/mol

Chemical properties

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