after ytterby (sweden) and its mineral ytterbite (gadolinite)
johan gadolin (1794)
heinrich rose (1843)
main isotopes of yttrium
yttrium is a chemical element with the symboly and atomic number 39. it is a silvery-metallic transition metal chemically similar to the lanthanides and has often been classified as a "rare-earth element". yttrium is almost always found in combination with lanthanide elements in rare-earth minerals, and is never found in nature as a free element. 89y is the only stable isotope, and the only isotope found in the earth's crust.
the most important uses of yttrium are leds and phosphors, particularly the red phosphors in television set cathode ray tube displays. yttrium is also used in the production of electrodes, electrolytes, electronic filters, lasers, superconductors, various medical applications, and tracing various materials to enhance their properties.
yttrium has no known biological role. exposure to yttrium compounds can cause lung disease in humans.
the name is historical and comes from the village of ytterby, in sweden: in 1787, the famous chemist arrhenius found there a new mineral and named it ytterbite. then, johan gadolin discovered yttrium's oxide in arrhenius' sample in 1789, and ekeberg named the new oxideyttria. elemental yttrium was first isolated in 1828 by friedrich wöhler.