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Vital Statistics:

Atomic Number 39
Atomic Mass 88.9059 amu
Ground state Electron Configuration 1s22s22p63s23p63d104s24p64d15s2
Boiling Point 3611 K
Melting Point 1795 K
Density 4.47 g/cm3  (@ 300 K)
Atomic Volume 19.80 cm3/mol (@ 300 K)
Number of stable Isotopes 1 (89 Y)

Note: 19 other unstable isotopes have been identified

Half Life 106.6 days (positron emission)
Covalent Radius 1.42 angstroms
Atomic radius 1.78 angstroms
Common Oxidation States +3
Specific Heat Capacity 0.30 (@ 300 K J/gK)
Heat of Vaporization 393.3 kJ/mol
Heat of Fusion 17.15 kJ/mol
Crystal Structure Hexagonal  
Acid Base Properties Slightly Basic


Ionization Energies

Oxidation and Electrons

Names in other Languages

History of Yttrium

How Expensive is this stuff?

Yttrium metal of 99.9% purity is commercially available at a cost of about $75/oz.


Yttrium is a silvery-white, soft metal which is relatively stable in air due to formation of the oxide film.


Yttrium occurs in nearly all the rare-earth minerals. It is recovered commercially from monazite sand and bastnaezite by reduction with calcium metal.

Yttrium is used to make Superconductors:

With the advent of high temperature superconduction, it is relatively simple to prepare and use a ceramic high temperature superconductor in most sixth form/college science labs.

YBa2Cu3O7 ("1-2-3") - Click to open VRML structure Crystal structure of YBa2Cu3O7 - the so-called "1-2-3" superconductor. The Blue center atom is Yttrium. The turquoise are barium, the small pink are copper, and the red are oxygen. Click here for a link to make this superconductor!

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History of Yttrium:

(Ytterby, a village in Sweden near Vauxholm Click here to see a map of Sweden!) Yttria, which is an earth containing yttrium, was discovered by Gadolin in 1794. Ytterby is the site of a quarry which yielded many unusual minerals containing rare earths and other elements. This small town, near Stockholm, bears the honor of giving names to erbium, terbium, and ytterbium as well as yttrium. In 1843 Mosander showed that yttira could be resolved into the oxides (or earths) of three elements. The name yttria was reserved for the most basic one; the others were named erbia and terbia. Yttrium occurs in nearly all of the rare-earth minerals. Analysis of lunar rock samples obtained during the Apollo missions show a relatively high yttrium content. It is recovered commercially from monazite sand, which contains about 3%, and from bastnasite, which contains about 0.2%. Wohler obtained the impure element in 1828 by reduction of the anhydrous chloride with potassium. The metal is now produced commercially by reduction of the fluoride with calcium metal.

Uses for Yttrium:

~Yttrium oxide is one of the most important compounds of yttrium and accounts for the largest use. It is widely used in making YVO4 europium, and Y2O3 europium phosphors to give the red color in color television tubes.

~Yttrium oxide also is used to produce yttrium-iron-garnets, which are very effective microwave filters.

~Yttrium iron, aluminum, and gadolinium garnets, with formulas such as Y3Fe5O12 and Y3Al5O12, have interesting magnetic properties. Yttrium iron garnet is also exceptionally efficient as both a transmitter and transducer of acoustic energy.

~Yttrium aluminum garnet, with a hardness of 8.5, is also finding use as a gemstone (simulated diamond).

~Small amounts of yttrium (0.1 to 0.2%) can be used to reduce the grain size in chromium, molybdenum, zirconium, and titanium, and to increase strength of aluminum and magnesium alloys. Alloys with other useful properties can be obtained by using yttrium as an additive.

~Yttrium is also finding application in laser systems and as a catalyst for ethylene polymerization.

~It also has potential use in ceramic and glass formulas, as the oxide has a high melting point and imparts shock resistance and low expansion characteristics to glass.

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Pauling electronegativity [/Pauling units]: 1.22
Sanderson electronegativity [/Pauling units]: 0.65
Allred Rochow electronegativity [/Pauling units]: 1.11

Unstable Isotopes


Half Life


14.74 hours


3.35 days


106.6 days


2.67 days


3.19 hours


58.51 days


49.71 minutes


3.54 hours


10.2 hours



1st ionization energy 615.6 kJ/mole Electronegativity 1.22
2nd ionization energy 1181 kJ/mole Electron affinity 29.6 kJ/mole
3rd ionization energy 1979.9 kJ/mole Specific heat 0.30 J/gK
Heat atomization 423 kJ/mole atoms

Oxidation & Electrons

Shells 2,8,18,9,2 Electron configuration [Kr] 4d1 5s2
Minimum oxidation number 0 Maximum oxidation number 3
Minimum common oxidation number 0 Maximum common oxidation number 3

Appearance & Characteristics

Structure hcp: hexagonal close pkd Color silvery
Uses YAG laser, TV phosphor Toxicity  
Hardness mohs Characteristics forms protective oxide


Reaction with air vigorous, =>Y2O3 Reaction with 6M HCl mild, =>H2, YCl3
Reaction with 6M HCl mild, =>H2, YCl3 Reaction with 15M HNO3 vigorous, =>Y(NO3)3
Names in Other Languages
Latin: Yttrium
Czech: Yttrium
Croatian: Itrij
French: Yttrium
German: Yttrium - s
Italian: Ittrio
Norwegian: Yttrium
Portuguese: Itrio
Spanish: Itrio
Swedish: Yttrium

Go to WebElements to get more information on this element.

This site was created by Sarah Myers

for her General Chemistry class at Pomona College.

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