Chemical Element: yttrium

(Modern Latin: named for Ytterby, near Vaxholm in Sweden; rare earth)

Chemical-Element information

Symbol: Y
Atomic number: 39
Year discovered: 1794

Discovered by: Johan Gadolin (1760-1852), a Finnish chemist.

  • Yttria (yttrium oxide), was discovered by Johann Gadolin, in 1794, in a mineral called “gadolinite” from Ytterby.
  • Ytterby is the site of a quarry in Sweden which contains many unusual minerals containing erbium, terbium, and ytterbium as well as yttrium.
  • Friedrich Wohler obtained the impure element, in 1828, by reduction of anhydrous chloride with potassium.
  • Yttrium metal is used in alloys and in metallurgical operations.
  • Yttrium compounds are used in optical glasses and in special ceramics; as catalysts; and in electronic and optical devices including phosphors, garnets, and lasers.
  • Red phosphors containing yttrium and europium have greatly improved color television.

Name in other languages:

French: yttrium

German: Yttrium

Italian: ittrio

Spanish: ytrio

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.