|Name, symbol, number||erbium, Er, 68|
|Group, period, block||n/a, 6, f|
|Standard atomic weight||167.259 g·mol−1|
|Electron configuration||[Xe] 4f12 6s2|
|Electrons per shell||2, 8, 18, 30, 8, 2 (Image)|
|Density (near r.t.)||9.066 g·cm−3|
|Liquid density at m.p.||8.86 g·cm−3|
|Melting point||1802 K, 1529 °C, 2784 °F|
|Boiling point||3141 K, 2868 °C, 5194 °F|
|Heat of fusion||19.90 kJ·mol−1|
|Heat of vaporization||280 kJ·mol−1|
|Specific heat capacity||(25 °C) 28.12 J·mol−1·K−1|
|Oxidation states||3 (basic oxide)|
|Electronegativity||1.24 (Pauling scale)|
|Ionization energies||1st: 589.3 kJ·mol−1|
|2nd: 1150 kJ·mol−1|
|3rd: 2194 kJ·mol−1|
|Atomic radius||176 pm|
|Covalent radius||189±6 pm|
|Magnetic ordering||paramagnetic at 300 K|
|Electrical resistivity||(r.t.) (poly) 0.860 µΩ·m|
|Thermal conductivity||(300 K) 14.5 W·m−1·K−1|
|Thermal expansion||(r.t.) (poly) 12.2 µm/(m·K)|
|Speed of sound (thin rod)||(20 °C) 2830 m/s|
|Young's modulus||69.9 GPa|
|Shear modulus||28.3 GPa|
|Bulk modulus||44.4 GPa|
|Vickers hardness||589 MPa|
|Brinell hardness||814 MPa|
|CAS registry number||7440-52-0|
|Most stable isotopes|
|Main article: Isotopes of erbium|
Erbium (pronounced /ˈɜrbiəm/) is a chemical element with the symbol Er and atomic number 68. A rare, silvery, white metallic lanthanide, erbium is solid in its normal state. It is a rare earth element associated with several other rare elements in the mineral gadolinite from Ytterby in Sweden.
Erbium's principal uses involve its pink-colored ions, which have optical fluorescent properties particularly useful in certain laser applications. Erbium-doped glasses or crystals can be used as optical amplification media, where erbium ions are optically pumped at around 980 nm or 1480 nm and then radiate light at 1550 nm in stimulated emission. This process results in an unusually mechanically simple laser optical amplifier for fiberoptically transmitted signals. The 1550 nm wavelength is especially important for optical communications because standard single mode optical fibers have minimal loss at this particular wavelength. In addition to optical fiber lasers, a large variety of medical applications (i.e. dermatology, dentistry) utilize erbium ion's 2940 nm emission (see Er:YAG laser), which is highly absorbed in water (absorption coefficient about 12000/cm).
A trivalent element, pure erbium metal is malleable (or easily shaped), soft yet stable in air, and does not oxidize as quickly as some other rare-earth metals. Its salts are rose-colored, and the element has characteristic sharp absorption spectra bands in visible light, ultraviolet, and near infrared. Otherwise it looks much like the other rare earths. Its sesquioxide is called erbia. Erbium's properties are to a degree dictated by the kind and amount of impurities present. Erbium does not play any known biological role, but is thought to be able to stimulate metabolism.
Erbium can form propeller-shaped atomic clusters Er3N, where the distance between the erbium atoms is 0.35 nm. Those clusters can be isolated by encapsulating them into fullerene molecules, as confirmed by transmission electron microscopy.
Erbium metal tarnishes slowly in air and burns readily to form erbium(III) oxide:
Erbium is quite electropositive and reacts slowly with cold water and quite quickly with hot water to form erbium hydroxide:
Erbium metal reacts with all the halogens:
Naturally occurring erbium is composed of 6 stable isotopes, Er-162, Er-164, Er-166, Er-167, Er-168, and Er-170 with Er-166 being the most abundant (33.503% natural abundance). 29 radioisotopes have been characterized, with the most stable being Er-169 with a half-life of 9.4 days, Er-172 with a half-life of 49.3 hours, Er-160 with a half-life of 28.58 hours, Er-165 with a half-life of 10.36 hours, and Er-171 with a half-life of 7.516 hours. All of the remaining radioactive isotopes have half-lives that are less than 3.5 hours, and the majority of these have half-lives that are less than 4 minutes. This element also has 13 meta states, with the most stable being Er-167m (t½ 2.269 seconds).
The isotopes of erbium range in atomic weight from 142.9663 u (Er-143) to 176.9541 u (Er-177). The primary decay mode before the most abundant stable isotope, Er-166, is electron capture, and the primary mode after is beta decay. The primary decay products before Er-166 are element 67 (holmium) isotopes, and the primary products after are element 69 (thulium) isotopes.
Erbium (for Ytterby, a village in Sweden) was discovered by Carl Gustaf Mosander in 1843. Mosander separated "yttria" from the mineral gadolinite into three fractions which he called yttria, erbia, and terbia. He named the new element after the village of Ytterby where large concentrations of yttria and erbium are located. Erbia and terbia, however, were confused at this time. After 1860, terbia was renamed erbia and after 1877 what had been known as erbia was renamed terbia. Fairly pure Er2O3 was independently isolated in 1905 by Georges Urbain and Charles James. Reasonably pure metal wasn't produced until 1934 when Klemm and Bommer reduced the anhydrous chloride with potassium vapor. It was only in the 1990s that the price for Chinese-derived erbium oxide became low enough for erbium to be considered for use as a colorant in art glass.
The concentration of erbium in the Earth crust is about 2.8 mg/kg and in the sea water 0.9 ng/L.. This concentration is enough to make erbium about 45th in elemental abundance in the Earth's crust, more common than more familiar elements such as lead.
Like other rare earths, this element is never found as a free element in nature but is found bound in monazite sand ores. It has historically been very difficult and expensive to separate rare earths from each other in their ores but ion-exchange production techniques developed in the late 20th century have greatly brought down the cost of production of all rare-earth metals and their chemical compounds.
The principal commercial sources of erbium are from the minerals xenotime and euxenite, and most recently, the ion adsorption clays of southern China; in consequence, China has now become the principal global supplier of this element. In the high-yttrium versions of these ore concentrates, yttrium is about two-thirds of the total by weight, and erbia is about 4-5%. When the concentrate is dissolved in acid, the erbia liberates enough erbium ion to impart a distinct and characteristic pink color to the solution. This color behavior is similar to what Mosander and the other early workers in the lanthanides would have seen in their extracts from the gadolinite minerals of Ytterby.
Crushed minerals are attacked by hydrochloric or sulfuric acid that transforms insoluble rare-earth oxides into soluble chlorides or sulfates. The acidic filtrates are partially neutralized with caustic soda to pH 3-4. Thorium precipitates out of solution as hydroxide and is removed. After that the solution is treated with ammonium oxalate to convert rare earths in to their insoluble oxalates. The oxalates are converted to oxides by annealing. The oxides are dissolved in nitric acid that excludes one of the main components, cerium, whose oxide is insoluble in HNO3. The solution is treated with magnesium nitrate to produce a crystallized mixture of double salts of rare-earth metals. The salts are separated by ion exchange. In this process, rare-earth ions are sorbed onto suitable ion-exchange resin by exchange with hydrogen, ammonium or cupric ions present in the resin. The rare earth ions are then selectively washed out by suitable complexing agent. Erbium metal is obtained from its oxide or salts by heating with calcium at 1450 °C under argon atmosphere.
Erbium's everyday uses are varied. It is commonly used as a photographic filter, and because of its resilience it is useful as a metallurgical additive. Other uses:
As with the other lanthanides, erbium compounds are of low to moderate toxicity, although their toxicity has not been investigated in detail. Metallic erbium in dust form presents a fire and explosion hazard.
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