At A Glance: Lu
|Atomic Radius:||221 pm (Van der Waals)|
|Melting Point:||1663 °C|
|Boiling Point:||3402 °C|
|Sources: Found with almost all other rare-earth metals but never by itself, lutetium is very difficult to separate from other elements.Uses: Catalysts in cracking, alkylation, hydrogenation, and polymerization; detectors in positron emission tomography (PET). Virtually no other commercial uses have been found yet for lutetium.
Content provided by Los Alamos National Laboratory. Used with permission.
Stable lutetium nuclides, which emit pure beta radiation after thermal neutron activation, can be used as catalysts in cracking, alkylation, hydrogenation, and polymerization. Cerium-doped Lutetium oxyorthosilicate (LSO) is currently used in detectors in positron emission tomography (PET). Virtually no other commercial uses have been found yet for lutetium.
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.
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.
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.
Sources: Los Alamos National Laboratory; Molycorp