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The Element Dysprosium

[Click for Isotope Data]





Atomic Number: 66

Atomic Weight: 162.500

Melting Point: 1685 K (1412°C or 2574°F)

Boiling Point: 2840 K (2567°C or 4653°F)

Density: 8.55 grams per cubic centimeter

Phase at Room Temperature: Solid

Element Classification: Metal

Period Number: 6    Group Number: none    Group Name: Lanthanide

What's in a name? From the Greek word dysprositos, which means "hard to get at."

Say what? Dysprosium is pronounced as dis-PRO-see-em or as dis-PRO-she-em.

History and Uses:

Dysprosium was discovered by Paul-Émile Lecoq de Boisbaudran, a French chemist, in 1886 as an impurity in erbia, the oxide of erbium. The metal was isolated by Georges Urbain, another French chemist, in 1906. Pure samples of dysprosium were first produced in the 1950s. Today, dysprosium is primarily obtained through an ion exchange process from monazite sand ((Ce, La, Th, Nd, Y)PO4), a material rich in rare earth elements.

There are no commercial applications for dysprosium. Since it easily absorbs neutrons and has a high melting point, dysprosium might be alloyed with steel for use in nuclear reactors. When combined with vanadium and other rare earth elements, dysprosium is used as a laser material.

Dysprosium oxide (Dy2O3), also known as dysprosia, is combined with nickel and added to a special cement used to cool nuclear reactor rods. Other dysprosium compounds include: dysprosium fluoride (DyF3), dysprosium iodide (DyI3) and dysprosium sulfate (Dy2(SO4)3).

Estimated Crustal Abundance: 5.2 milligrams per kilogram

Estimated Oceanic Abundance: 9.1×10-7 milligrams per liter

Number of Stable Isotopes: 7   (View all isotope data)

Ionization Energy: 5.939 eV

Oxidation States: +3

Electron Shell Configuration:


2s2   2p6

3s2   3p6   3d10

4s2   4p6   4d10   4f10

5s2   5p6