Terbium (pronEng|ˈtɝbiəm) is a chemical element with the symbol Tb and atomic number 65.


Terbium is a silvery-white rare earth metal that is malleable, ductile and soft enough to be cut with a knife. It is reasonably stable in air (it does not tarnish after nineteen months at room temperature) [http://www.elementsales.com/re_exp/index.htm] , and two crystal allotropes exist, with a transformation temperature of 1289 °C.

The Terbium(III) cation is brilliantly fluorescent, in a beautiful bright lemon-yellow color that is the result of a strong green emission line in combination with other lines in the orange and red. The yttrofluorite variety of the mineral fluorite owes its creamy-yellow fluorescence in part to terbium.

Terbium is ferromagnetic below about 220 kelvin, and exhibits a peculiar antiferromagnetic phase between 220 and 230 kelvin.


Terbium is used to dope calcium fluoride, calcium tungstate and strontium molybdate, materials that are used in solid-state devices, and as a crystal stabilizer of fuel cells which operate at elevated temperatures, together with ZrO2.

Terbium is also used in alloys and in the production of electronic devices. As a component of Terfenol-D (an alloy that expands or contracts to a high degree in the presence of a magnetic field), terbium is of use in actuators, sensors and other magenetomechanical devices.

Terbium oxide is used in green phosphors in fluorescent lamps and color TV tubes. Sodium terbium borate is used in solid state devices. The brilliant fluorescence allows terbium to be used as a probe in biochemistry, where it somewhat resembles calcium in its behavior. Terbium "green" phosphors (which fluoresce a brilliant lemon-yellow) are combined with divalent Europium blue phosphors and trivalent europium red phosphors to provide the "trichromatic" lighting technology, which is by far the largest consumer of the world's terbium supply. Trichromatic lighting provides much higher light output for a given amount of electrical energy than does incandescent lighting.


Terbium was discovered in 1843 by Swedish chemist Carl Gustaf Mosander,who detected it as an impurity in Yttrium-oxide, Y2O3, and named after the village Ytterby in Sweden. It was not isolated in pure form until the recent advent of ion exchange techniques.When Mosander first partitioned "yttria" into three fractions, "terbia" was the fraction that contained the pink color (due to what is now known as erbium), and "erbia" was the fraction that was essentially colorless in solution, but gave a brown-tinged oxide. Later workers had difficulty in observing the latter, but the pink fraction was impossible to miss. Arguments went back and forth as to whether "erbia" even existed. In the confusion, the original names got reversed, and the exchange of names stuck. It is now thought that those workers who used the double sodium or potassium sulfates to remove "ceria" from "yttria" inadvertently lost the terbium content of the system into the ceria-containing precipitate. In any case, what is now known as terbium was only about 1% of the original yttria, but that was sufficient to impart a yellowish color to the oxide. Thus, terbium was a minor component in the original terbium fraction, dominated by its immediate neighbors, gadolinium and dysprosium. Thereafter, whenever other rare earths were teased apart from this mixture, whichever fraction gave the brown oxide retained the terbium name, until at last it was pure. The 19th century investigators did not have the benefit of fluorescence technology, wherewith to observe the brilliant fluorescence that would have made this element much easier to track in mixtures.


Terbium is never found in nature as a free element, but it is contained in many minerals, including cerite, gadolinite, monazite ((Ce,LaTh,Nd,Y)PO4, which contains up to 0.03% of terbium), xenotime (YPO4) and euxenite ((Y,Ca,Er,La,Ce,U,Th)(Nb,Ta,Ti)2O6, which contains 1% or more of terbium).The richest current commercial sources of terbium are the ion-adsorption clays of southern China. The high-yttrium concentrate versions of these are about two-thirds yttrium oxide by weight, and about 1% terbia. However, small amounts occur in bastnäsite and monazite, and when these are processed by solvent-extraction to recover the valuable heavy lanthanides in the form of "samarium-europium-gadolinium concentrate" ("SEG concentrate"), the terbium content of the ore ends up therein. Due to the large volumes of bastnäsite processed, relative to the richer ion-adsorption clays, a significant proportion of the world's terbium supply comes from bastnäsite.


Terbium compounds include:

* Fluorides: TbF3, TbF4; the latter is a strong fluorinating agent, emitting relatively pure atomic fluorine when heated [cite journal | title=Transition and rare earth metal fluorides as thermal sources of atomic and molecular fluorine | author= J.V.Rau |coauthors= N.S. Chilingarov, M.S. Leskiv, V.F. Sukhoverkhov', V. Rossi Albertini, L.N. Sidorov | year=2001] rather than the mixture of fluoride vapours emitted from CoF3 or CeF4.

* Chlorides: TbCl3
* Bromides: TbBr3
* Iodides: TbI3
* Oxides: Tb2O3, TbO2, Tb4O7. Burning terbium gives Tb2O3; igniting terbium (III) oxalate in air gives Tb4O7, and terbium dioxide is formed by dissolving the latter in hot HCl.
* Sulfides: Tb2S3
* Nitrides: TbN

"See also ."


Naturally occurring terbium is composed of 1 stable isotope, 159-Tb. 33 radioisotopes have been characterized, with the most stable being 158-Tb with a half-life of 180 years, 157-Tb with a half-life of 71 years, and 160-Tb with a half-life of 72.3 days. All of the remaining radioactive isotopes have half-lifes that are less than 6.907 days, and the majority of these have half lifes that are less than 24 seconds. This element also has 18 meta states, with the most stable being 156m1-Tb (t½ 24.4 hours), 154m2-Tb (t½ 22.7 hours) and 154m1-Tb (t½ 9.4 hours).

The primary decay mode before the most abundant stable isotope, 159-Tb, is electron capture, and the primary mode behind is beta minus decay. The primary decay products before 159-Tb are element Gd (gadolinium) isotopes, and the primary products behind are element Dy (dysprosium) isotopes.


As with the other lanthanides, terbium compounds are of low to moderate toxicity, although their toxicity has not been investigated in detail. Terbium has no known biological role.


* [http://periodic.lanl.gov/elements/65.html Los Alamos National Laboratory – Terbium]

Further reading


See also


External links

* [http://www.webelements.com/webelements/elements/text/Tb/index.html WebElements.com – Terbium]
* [http://education.jlab.org/itselemental/ele065.html It's Elemental – Terbium]

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Terbium — Gadolinium ← Terbium → Dysprosium …   Wikipédia en Français

  • terbium — [ tɛrbjɔm ] n. m. • 1873; de Ytterby, nom de la localité suéd. où fut découvert le minerai ♦ Chim. Élément atomique du groupe des terres rares (Tb; no at. 65; m. at. 158,92). ● terbium nom masculin (de Ytterby, nom d une localité suédoise) Métal… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Terbium — Ter bi*um, n. [NL., fr. Ytterby, in Sweden. See {Erbium}.] (Chem.) A rare metallic element, found in certain minerals, as gadolinite and samarskite, with other rare earths such as ytterbium. Symbol Tb. Atomic number 65. Atomic weight 158.925.… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Terbĭum — Terbĭum, ein Metall, dessen Oxyd neben den Oxyden von Erbium u. Yttrium im Gadolinit vorkommt; wurde 1843 von Mosander entdeckt, ist aber noch nicht rein dargestellt u. nur wenig bekannt. Das Terbiumoxyd (Terbinerde) ist weiß, seine Salze… …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Terbĭum — Tb, Metall, findet sich in den Mineralien, welche die »seltenen Erden« (s. d., Bd. 6) enthalten; Terbiumoxyd (Terbinerde) Tb2O3 ist dunkel orangefarben, entfärbt sich durch Glühen in reduzierender Atmosphäre, die Salze sind farblos. Das Metall… …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • Terbium — Terbĭum, seltenes Edelmetall aus der Yttererde, noch nicht in reinem Zustande isoliert. Atomgewicht 160 …   Kleines Konversations-Lexikon

  • Terbium — Terbium, von Mosander entdecktes Metall, sehr selten vorkommend …   Herders Conversations-Lexikon

  • terbium — Symbol: Tb Atomic number: 65 Atomic weight: 158.924 Silvery metallic element belonging to the lanthanoids. Tb 159 is the only stable isotope, there are seventeen artificial isotopes. Discovered by G.G. Mosander in 1843 …   Elements of periodic system

  • terbium — [tʉr′bē əm] n. [ModL: so named (1843) by Mosander, its discoverer, after Ytterby: see ERBIUM] a soft, silver gray, ductile chemical element, one of the rare earth elements, found in gadolinite and other minerals: symbol, Tb; at. no., 65: see the… …   English World dictionary

  • Terbium — Eigenschaften …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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