Chemical Element: dysprosium

(Modern Latin: chemical element; from Greek, dysprositos, hard to get at; difficult to access; hard to obtain; rare earth)

Chemical-Element Information

Symbol: Dy
Atomic number: 66
Year discovered: 1866

Discovered by: Paul-Émile Lecoq de Boisbaudran (1838-1912), a French chemist.

  • A little dysprosium oxide was identified in 1886 by Paul-Émile Lecoq de Boisbaudran as an impurity in erbia (erbium oxide), but the element itself was not isolated at that time.
  • Boisbaudran, who had already isolated gallium and samarium, was working on a rare earth ore containing holmium when he discovered that it contained small amount of still another rare earth element, which he named “dysprosium”, from a Greek word meaning “hard to get at”.
  • Neither the oxide nor the metal was available in relatively pure form until the 1950’s following the development of ion-exchange separation and metallographic reduction techniques.
  • Its compounds have been used as catalysts in the oil refining industry, as compounds in some electronic equipment, and as phosphor activators.

Name in other languages:

French: dysprosium

German: Dysprosium

Italian: disprosio

Spanish: disprosio

Information about other elements may be seen at this Chemical Elements List.

A special unit about words that include chemo-, chem- may be seen here.