Yttrium is a chemical element with symbol Y and atomic number 39. It is a silvery-metallic transition metal chemically similar to thelanthanides and has often been classified as a "rare earth element".Yttrium is almost always found in combination with lanthanide elements in rare earth minerals, and is never found in nature as a free element. 89Y is the only stable isotope, and the only isotope found in the Earth's crust.
In 1787, Carl Axel Arrhenius found a new mineral near Ytterby inSweden and named it ytterbite, after the village. Johan Gadolindiscovered yttrium's oxide in Arrhenius' sample in 1789, and Anders Gustaf Ekeberg named the new oxide yttria. Elemental yttrium was first isolated in 1828 by Friedrich Wöhler.
The most important uses of yttrium are LEDs and phosphors, particularly the red phosphors in television set cathode ray tube (CRT) displays. Yttrium is also used in the production of electrodes,electrolytes, electronic filters, lasers, superconductors, various medical applications, and tracing various materials to enhance their properties.
Yttrium has no known biological role and exposure to yttrium compounds can cause lung disease in humans.