Dysprosium

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Dysprosium is a chemical element with the symbol Dy and atomic number 66. It is a silvery metal that is very slightly magnetic.

Properties

Chemical

Dysprosium metal burns readily to form dysprosium(III) oxide:

4 Dy + 3 O2 → 2 Dy2O3

Dysprosium metal will slowly react with water, and far more quickly with mineral acids, at room temperature to release hydrogen:

2 Dy + 6 H2O → 2 Dy(OH)3 + 3 H2

However, dysprosium dissolves only slowly in sulfamic acid and citric acid, even when concentrated.

Physical

Dysprosium is a silvery lanthanide metal. It is soft enough to be scratched with a knife (though cutting it with a knife is time-consuming), and can be machined without sparking if overheating is avoided. Dysprosium and holmium have the highest magnetic strengths of the elements, especially at low temperatures. When cooled with liquid nitrogen, the metal turns ferromagnetic from its usual strong paramagnetic state.

Most dysprosium salts are highly paramagnetic. Some are also fluorescent.

Availability

Dysprosium is readily available from source such as Metallium and eBay. United Nuclear also sells metallic dysprosium, at 30 $/10g. It is not cheap, but it is less expensive than gold or other precious metals.

Preparation

Metallic dysprosium can be prepared by reducing dysprosium halides with calcium or lithium. However, it is far more feasible to just buy the metal.

Projects

  • Dysprosium nitrate
  • Make yellow fluorescent salts
  • Dysprosium phthalate coordination polymer?

Handling

Safety

Dysprosium will react with water to produce hydrogen, which is flammable. Soluble dysprosium salts, such as dysprosium chloride and dysprosium nitrate, are mildly toxic when ingested. The insoluble salts, however, are non-toxic. Dysprosium fires require a class D fire extinguisher. Water may aggravate dysprosium fires or cause a hydrogen explosion.

Storage

Dysprosium can be stored in air indefinitely without any significant corrosion, likely due to passivation. Argon and mineral oil also work. Water, acids, and any metal cleaning agent will tarnish dysprosium.

Disposal

Best to try to recycle it.

References

Relevant Sciencemadness threads

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