Author: Jan Scholten
16.0 Ytterbium physical
Ytterbium is a soft, malleable and rather ductile element that exhibits a bright silvery luster. A rare earth element, it is easily attacked and dissolved by mineral acids, slowly reacts with water, and oxidizes in air.
The element is sometimes associated with yttrium or other related elements. Natural ytterbium is a mix of seven stable isotopes.
Ytterbium has three allotropes which are called alpha, beta and gamma and whose transformation points are at -13 ° C and 795 °C. The beta form exists at room temperature and has a face-centered crystal structure while the high-temperature gamma form has a body-centered crystal structure.
Normally, the beta form has a metallic-like electrical conductivity, but becomes a semiconductor when exposed to around 16,000 atm. Its electrical resistance is tenfold larger at about 39,000 atm but then dramatically drops to around 10% of its room temperature resistivity value at 40,000 atm.
Atomic Number: 70.
Discovery: 1878 by J.C. Galissard de Marignac at Geneva Switzerland.
Name: after Ytterby (is near), a small village near Stockholm.
Toxicology: skin and eye irritant. It is a suspected teratogen.
Ore: gadolinite, monazite, and xenotime.
1. Laser: There are few other uses of this element, e.g. in the form of ions in active laser media.
2. Magnet: Yb2Co13Fe3Mn is the strongest known magnet, 85 GMOe.
3. Metallurgy: Its metal could also be used to help improve the grain refinement, strength, and other mechanical properties of stainless steel.
4. Radiation: one ytterbium isotope has been used as a radiation source substitute for a portable X-ray machine when electricity was not available.
5. Some ytterbium alloys, YbF, have been used in dentistry.