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) . Moreover, 29 radioactive isotopes have been produced, the most stable one being 154Dy, characterized by a half-life of 3 million years .
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 . It can be obtained from these minerals through the process of solvent extraction and ion exchange . It can as well be manufactured by reducing dysprosium trifluoride using calcium metal . 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 .
Origin of its Name: The name has been derived from the Greek word ‘dysprositos,’ which means hard to get .
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 . 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 .
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 . Today, that separation technique has been replaced by the liquid-liquid exchange technology .
|Atomic number||66 [1, 6]|
|CAS number||7429-91-6 |
|Position in the periodic table||Group||Period||Block|
|Lanthanides ||6 ||f |
Properties and Characteristics of Dysprosium
|Relative atomic mass||162.500 |
|Color||Bright silvery-white [1, 4]|
|Melting point/freezing point||1412 °C, 2574 °F |
|Boiling point||2567 °C, 4653 °F |
|Density||8.55 g cm-1 |
|State of matter at room temperature (solid/liquid/gas)||Solid [1, 4]|
|– Brinell||500 MPa |
|– Mohs||1.8 |
|– Vickers||540 MPa |
|Electrical conductivity||1.1X106 S/m |
|Thermal (heat) conductivity||11 W/(m.K) |
|Specific heat||173 J kg-1 K-1 |
|Bulk modulus||40.5 GPa |
|Shear modulus||24.7 GPa |
|Young’s modulus||61.4 GPa |
|– 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||–||–||–||–|
|Oxidation state/Oxidation number||+2 +3 (+4) |
|Isotopes||Isotope||Mass||Abundance||Half-life||Mode of decay|
Atomic Data of Dysprosium (Element 66)
|Valence electrons||3 |
|Quantum numbers||5I8 |
|Electron configuration (noble gas configuration)||[Xe] 4f106s2 |
|– Number of electrons||66 |
|– Number of neutrons||97 |
|– Number of protons||66 |
|Radius of Atom|
|– Atomic radius||2.31 Å |
|– Covalent radius||1.80 Å |
|Electronegativity (Pauling-scale)||1.22 |
|Electron affinity||Unknown |
|Ionization energy (kJ mol-1)||1st||2nd||3rd||4th||5th||6th||7th||8th|
What is Dysprosium used for
Since it reacts with air and water, dysprosium does not have much use in its pure metallic form . 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 .
- Compounds of dysprosium like dysprosium halide are applied in commercial lighting, including halide discharge lamps, helping in producing an intense white light .
- 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 .
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 .
Interesting Facts about Dysprosium
- Since Dysprosium does not have a hard texture, it can be easily cut with a knife .
- 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 .
The pure form of Dysprosium costs about $450-$500 per 100g, but in bulk, it costs approximately $30-$40 per 100g .