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Periodic Table of Elements: LANL

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Lutetium

Atomic Number: 71 Atomic Radius: 221 pm (Van der Waals)
Atomic Symbol: Lu Melting Point: 1663 °C
Atomic Weight: 175.0 Boiling Point: 3402 °C
Electron Configuration: [Xe]6s24f145d1 Oxidation States: 3

History

Lutetia is the ancient name for Paris. In 1907, Urbain described a process by which Marignac's ytterbium (1879) could be separated into the two elements, ytterbium (neoytterbium) and lutetium. These elements were identical with "aldebaranium" and "cassiopeium," independently discovered at this time. The spelling of the element was changed from lutecium to lutetium in 1949.

Properties

Lutetium occurs in very small amounts in nearly all minerals containing yttrium, and is present in monazite to the extent of about 0.003%, which is a commercial source. The pure metal has been isolated only in recent years and is one of the most difficult to prepare. It can be prepared by the reduction of anhydrous LuCl3 or LuF3 by an alkali or alkaline earth metal. The metal is silvery white and relatively stable in air. 176Lu occurs naturally (2.6%) with 175Lu (97.4%). It is radioactive with a half-life of about 3 x 1010 years.

Uses

Stable lutetium nuclides, which emit pure beta radiation after thermal neutron activation, can be used as catalysts in cracking, alkylation, hydrogenation, and polymerization. Virtually no other commercial uses have been found yet for lutetium.

Handling

While lutetium, like other rare-earth metals, is thought to have a low toxicity rating, it should be handled with care until more information is available.

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