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Dysprosium (pronunciation: dis-PROH-zee-em) is a silvery rare earth metal classified as a lanthanide and represented by the atomic symbol Dy [1, 2]. It is composed of seven naturally occurring isotopes, out of which 164Dy is the most naturally abundant (with 28% abundance) [1]. Moreover, 29 radioactive isotopes have been produced, the most stable one being 154Dy, characterized by a half-life of 3 million years [3].

Dysprosium Symbol

Where is Dysprosium Found

Dysprosium, like many other lanthanides, is extracted from the minerals bastnaesite and monazite, as well as from some other minerals like fergusonite and xenotime [1]. It can be obtained from these minerals through the process of solvent extraction and ion exchange [1]. It can as well be manufactured by reducing dysprosium trifluoride using calcium metal [1]. The top 3 dysprosium reserve-holding nations are China, CIS Countries, and the USA whereas the top 3 dysprosium producers include China, Russia, and Malaysia [1].



Origin of its Name: The name has been derived from the Greek word ‘dysprositos,’ which means hard to get [1].

Who discovered it: The French chemist Paul-Emile Lecoq de Boisbaudran discovered Dysprosium [1, 4].

When and How was Dysprosium Discovered

In 1886, the element dysprosium was discovered by de Boisbaudran who carried out a series of research on the compound yttrium oxide involving endless precipitations on a marble slab of the fireplace at his home in Paris [1]. The compound was first produced in 1794, and since then several lanthanoids have been extracted, including erbium in 1843, holmium in 1878, and then dysprosium [1].

In 1950, pure samples of the element were first isolated using the ion-exchange chromatography technique, which was developed by the Canadian-American chemist Frank Spedding and his co-workers at the Iowa State University [1]. Today, that separation technique has been replaced by the liquid-liquid exchange technology [1].

Dysprosium Identification

Atomic number 66 [1, 6]
CAS number 7429-91-6 [1]
Position in the periodic table Group Period Block
  Lanthanides [1] 6 [1] f [1]

Location of Dysprosium in the Periodic Table

Properties and Characteristics of Dysprosium

General Properties

Relative atomic mass 162.500 [1]

Physical Properties

Color Bright silvery-white [1, 4]
Melting point/freezing point 1412 °C, 2574 °F [1]
Boiling point 2567 °C, 4653 °F [1]
Density 8.55 g cm-1 [1]
State of matter at room temperature (solid/liquid/gas) Solid [1, 4]
– Brinell 500 MPa [5]
– Mohs 1.8 [5]
– Vickers 540 MPa [5]
Electrical conductivity 1.1X106 S/m [5]
Thermal (heat) conductivity 11 W/(m.K) [5]
Specific heat 173 J kg-1 K-1 [1]
Bulk modulus 40.5 GPa [1]
Shear modulus 24.7 GPa [1]
Young’s modulus 61.4 GPa [1]
Vapor pressure
– Temperature (K) 400 600 800 1000 1200 1400 1600 1800 2000 2200 2400
– Pressure (Pa) 1.54X 10-8 8.21X 10-5 2.41X 10-2 1.362 27.5

Chemical Properties

Oxidation state/Oxidation number +2 +3 (+4) [1]
Isotopes Isotope Mass Abundance Half-life Mode of decay
  156Dy 155.924 0.056
  158Dy 157.924 0.095
  160Dy 159.925 2.32900
  161Dy 160.927 18.889
  162Dy 161.927 25.475
  163Dy 162.929 24.896
  164Dy 163.929 28.26

Atomic Data of Dysprosium (Element 66)

Valence electrons 3 [5]
Quantum numbers 5I8  [5]
Electron configuration (noble gas configuration) [Xe] 4f106s2 [1]
Atomic structure
– Number of electrons 66 [7]
– Number of neutrons 97 [7]
– Number of protons 66 [7]
Radius of Atom
– Atomic radius 2.31 Å [1]
– Covalent radius 1.80 Å [1]
Electronegativity (Pauling-scale) 1.22 [1]
Electron affinity Unknown [1]
Ionization energy (kJ mol-1) 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th
  573.017 1125.98 2199.9 4001.25

Dysprosium Bohr Model

What is Dysprosium used for

Since it reacts with air and water, dysprosium does not have much use in its pure metallic form [1]. Its alloys and compounds have the following applications:

  • Dysprosium alloys are used for producing neodymium-based magnets because they have better resistance to demagnetization at elevated temperatures. Therefore, these magnets are used in generators, motors, electrical vehicles, and wind turbines [1].
  • Compounds of dysprosium like dysprosium halide are applied in commercial lighting, including halide discharge lamps, helping in producing an intense white light [1].
  • A mixture containing nickel and dysprosium oxide is utilized in making the control rods used in nuclear reactors to absorb neutrons for a long period without contracting or expanding [1].

Dysprosium Health Effects and Hazards

While soluble salts of dysprosium can be mildly toxic when ingested, animal studies have indicated that taking a very high amount of dysprosium (dose of 500 g) can be life-threatening for humans [8].

Interesting Facts about Dysprosium

  • Since Dysprosium does not have a hard texture, it can be easily cut with a knife [9].
  • The element 66 has been visually depicted by an image of a nuclear reactor to reflect its use in the control rods of a nuclear reactor [1].

Dysprosium Price

The pure form of Dysprosium costs about $450-$500 per 100g, but in bulk, it costs approximately $30-$40 per 100g [4].



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