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Chemical Elements


lanthanide series, Marignac, xenotime, monazite, Ytterbium

Ytterbium, symbol Yb, soft, malleable, ductile metallic element that has a bright, silvery luster. Ytterbium is one of the rare earth elements in the lanthanide series of the periodic table. The atomic number of ytterbium is 70.

In 1878 the Swiss chemist Jean Charles de Marignac separated a new substance from the rare earth elements and named it ytterbium. In 1907 and 1908, however, the French chemist Georges Urbain and the Austrian chemist Carl Auer von Welsbach independently separated Marignac's ytterbium into two elements, which are now called ytterbium and lutetium. The elements ytterbium, yttrium, terbium, and erbium were all named for the town of Ytterby in Sweden, the location of a quarry that yielded several rare earth elements.

Ytterbium is reasonably stable but reacts slowly with water to liberate hydrogen. Ytterbium occurs in combination with such minerals as monazite, xenotime, euxenite, and gadolinite. It ranks about 44th in natural abundance among the elements in Earth's crust. Ytterbium has potential applications in alloys, electronics, and magnetic materials.

Ytterbium melts at 819C (1506F), boils at about 1196C (about 2185F), and has a specific gravity of 7. The atomic weight of ytterbium is 173.04.

Article key phrases:

lanthanide series, Marignac, xenotime, monazite, Ytterbium, natural abundance, lutetium, rare earth elements, yttrium, periodic table, quarry, alloys, specific gravity, minerals, Sweden, Earth, elements, electronics, water, location

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