Ytterbium Metal

Ytterbium, one of the four rare earth elements named after the Swedish village of Ytterby (and where four more elements were discovered, which do not bear names derived from it), was discovered in 1878, but only as an oxide. Pure metallic ytterbium was not prepared until 1953.

Although classified as a “rare earth” element, the abundance of ytterbium in the Earth’s crust at 3.2 parts per million (ppm) is greater than that of tin (2.3 ppm), tungsten (1.25 ppm), or silver (0.075 ppm). It is difficult to obtain in pure form because its chemical properties are so similar to the other lanthanide elements it is difficult to isolate from them in ore containing a mixture of them.

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