What is Dysprosium? Information on Dysprosium element properties, symbol, occurrence, preparation and uses.
Dysprosium; is a soft silver metallic element (symbol Dy). It is one of the rare-earth metals. Dysprosium was discovered in 1886 by the French chemist Paul Emile Lecoq de Boisbaudran. The name comes from the Greek word dysprositos, meaning “hard to get at.”
Uses: There are few uses for pure dysprosium. However, some uses are now being made of the metal in nuclear control applications because of its high neutron absorption cross section and high melting point.
Properties: The atomic number of dysprosium is 66, and its atomic weight is 162.50. The element has a large number of isotopes ranging from 149Dy to 167Dy, the most abundant being 164Dy, 162Dy, and 163Dy. Dysprosium has a valence of + 3. Its density is 8.536 grams/cu cm (0.307 lb/cu inch), and it crystallizes in the hexagonal close-packed system. The melting point of the element is 1407° C (2564° F), and the boiling point is 2873° C (5203° F).
Occurrence and Preparation: Dysprosium occurs in the minerals bastnaesite and monazite, as well as in a variety of other minerals common to rare-earth metals. Pure dysprosium is isolated from the rest of the rare-earth family through a very complex series of fractional crystallizations to an anhydrous chloride or fluoride. The chloride or fluoride is then either electrolyzed or reacted with calcium at high temperature in a vacuum furnace. The excess calcium and calcium halide are are vaporized, leaving the pure metal.