Chemical Element: ytterbium

(Modern Latin: named for Ytterby, a quarry in Sweden where the first rare earth had been discovered; rare earth)

Chemical-Element Information

Symbol: Yb
Atomic number: 70
Year discovered: 1878 and 1907.

Discovered by: Jean-Charles-Gallissard de Marignac (1817-1894), a Swiss chemist, and Georges Urbain (1872-1938), a French chemist.

  • In 1878, Marignac discovered a component, which he called ytterbia, in the earth then known as erbia.
  • In 1907, Georges Urbain and A. C. von Welsbach independently showed that Marignac’s earth was composed of two oxides which Urbain called “neoytterbia” and “lutecia”.
  • The elements in these earths are now known as “ytterbium” and “lutetium”, respectively.
  • They are identical with “aldebaranium” and “cassiopeium”, discovered independently and at about the same time by von Welsbach.
  • The impure element was first prepared by Klemm and Bonner, in 1937, who reduced ytterbium trichloride with potassium.
  • Ytterbium has few uses. It can be alloyed with stainless steel to improve some of its mechanical properties and used as an agent in fiber optic cable as an amplifier.
  • Some ytterbium is also used in making lasers.

    • Name in other languages:

      French: ytterbium

      German: Ytterbium

      Italian: itterbio

      Spanish: yterbio

      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.