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Yttrium,  39Y
General properties
Name, symbol Yttrium, Y
Appearance Silvery-white
Yttrium in the periodic table


Atomic number 39
Standard atomic weight (Ar) 88.90584(2)
Group, block , d-block
Period period 5
Electron configuration [Kr] 4d1 5s2
per shell
2, 8, 18, 9, 2
Physical properties
Phase Solid
Melting point 1799 K ​(1526 °C, ​2779 °F)
Boiling point 3203 K ​(2930 °C, ​5306 °F)
Density near r.t. 4.472 g/cm3
when liquid, at  4.24 g/cm3
Heat of fusion 11.42 kJ/mol
Heat of 363 kJ/mol
Molar heat capacity 26.53 J/(mol·K)
Atomic properties
Oxidation states 3, 2, 1 ​(a weakly basic oxide)
Electronegativity Pauling scale: 1.22
energies 1st: 600 kJ/mol
2nd: 1180 kJ/mol
3rd: 1980 kJ/mol
Atomic radius empirical: 180 pm
Covalent radius 190±7 pm
Crystal structure ​Hexagonal close-packed (hcp)
Speed of sound thin rod 3300 m/s (at 20 °C)
Thermal expansion 10.6 µm/(m·K) (α, poly)
Thermal conductivity 17.2 W/(m·K)
Electrical resistivity 5.96·10-7 Ω·m (α, poly)
Magnetic ordering Paramagnetic
Young's modulus 63.5 GPa
Shear modulus 25.6 GPa
Bulk modulus 41.2 GPa
Poisson ratio 0.243
Brinell hardness 200–589 MPa
CAS Registry Number 7440-65-5
Naming After Ytterby (Sweden) and its mineral ytterbite (gadolinite)
Discovery Johan Gadolin (1794)
First isolation Carl Gustav Mosander (1842)
· references

Yttrium is a transition metal with the symbol Y and the atomic number 39. It is chemically similar to the lanthanides, and is often grouped with them, as well as scandium, as a rare earth metal. Yttrium is a powerful reducing agent, but is not a necessary addition to the amateur chemistry lab when cheaper agents, such as magnesium, are readily available.



Yttrium is a silvery metal that is not very dense (comparable to titanium). It tends to form crystals which are hexagonally close-packed.


Yttrium is a typical rare-earth metal, with similar chemistry to aluminium. It does not corrode in air, yet it has the highest thermodynamic affinity for oxygen of any element. Finely divided yttrium is prone to ignition. In solution, yttrium compounds do not exhibit any color due to the lack of free d or f electrons. Its standard reduction potential is almost exactly the same as that of magnesium. It reacts with acids to form salts, most of which are soluble except for yttrium fluoride and yttrium oxalate. Yttrium sulfate is only slightly soluble. The metal reacts with the halogens to produce trihalides.

Its primary oxidation state is +3. Yttrium(II) compounds exist, but are not accessible to the amateur.


Yttrium is more common than tin on Earth, but it is very hard to find and expensive (though relatively cheap for a rare-earth element). One source for yttrium, as well as other rare earth metals, is Metallium. It is sold in 5 gram and 50 gram sizes, as well as rods, ampoules, 100 gram ingots, and coins. Yttrium and its compounds occasionally sold on eBay as well.





Toxicity data of yttrium compounds is scarce, but they appear to be of low to moderate danger. Yttrium plays no biological role, but acts similarly to calcium within the body. Some yttrium compounds, notably the halides, will hydrolyze when heated and will give off acidic vapors.


Small pieces of yttrium metal or powder are flammable. Class D fire extinguishers should be readily available when working with yttrium near an open flame. Water should never be used to extinguish burning yttrium, as it will aggravate the flame.


Yttrium should be stored away from any corrosive reagents and flame source.


Due to its rarity and price, it's best to try to recycle it.


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