Ytterbium is a chemical element with symbol Yb and atomic number 70. It is the fourteenth and penultimate element in the lanthanide series, which is the basis of the relative stability of its +2 oxidation state.
- Some ytterbium halides are used as reagents in organic synthesis. For example, ytterbium(III) chloride (YbCl3) is a Lewis acid and can be used as a catalyst in the Aldol and Diels–Alder reactions. Ytterbium(II) iodide (YbI2) may be used, like samarium(II) iodide, as a reducing agent for coupling reactions. Ytterbium(III) fluoride (YbF3) is used as an inert and non-toxic tooth filling as it continuously releases fluoride ions, which are good for dental health, and is also a good X-ray contrast agent.
- Ytterbium can also be used as a dopant to help improve the grain refinement, strength, and other mechanical properties of stainless steel. Some ytterbium alloys have rarely been used in dentistry.
- Although ytterbium is fairly stable chemically, it is stored in airtight containers and in an inert atmosphere such as a nitrogen-filled dry box to protect it from air and moisture. All compounds of ytterbium are treated as highly toxic, although studies appear to indicate that the danger is minimal. However, ytterbium compounds cause irritation to human skin and eyes, and some might be teratogenic. Metallic ytterbium dust can spontaneously combust, and the resulting fumes are hazardous. Ytterbium fires cannot be extinguished using water, and only dry chemical class D fire extinguishers can extinguish the fires
Source: Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ytterbium