Ytterbium (Chemical Elements)
Ytterbium belongs to the lanthanide family. The lanthanides make up Row 6 of the periodic table. The periodic table is a chart that shows how the chemical elements are related to each other. The lanthanides are also known as the rare earth elements. The name suggests that the lanthanides do not occur commonly in the earth. In fact, that is not correct. They are not all that uncommon. The name rare earth arose because the elements are so difficult to separate from each other. With modern techniques, this separation can be done much more easily.
Ytterbium was one of nine new elements discovered in the mineral yttria at the end of the nineteenth century. Analyzing this mineral posed great difficulties for chemists of the time. The elements in yttria have very similar properties. That makes it difficult to separate them from each other. Three chemists, Jean-Charles Gallisard de Marignac, Lars Fredrik Nilson, and Georges Urbain, all deserve partial credit for discovering ytterbium.
(The entire section is 930 words.)
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