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Chemical Elements, thulium to zirconium, Chart 8 of 8

thulium | tin | titanium | tungsten | ununbium | ununnilium | unununium | uranium | vanadium | xenon | ytterbium | yttrium | zinc | zirconium

This is eighth of eight groups of chem elements available in these cross-reference searches.

The Chemical Elements Chart is here.

The Chemical-Elements Table Index is here.

Symbol: Tm
Atomic number: 69
Year discovered: 1879
Discovered by: Per Teodor Cleve (1840-1905), a Swedish chemist.

Additional information:
  • Per Teodor Cleve of Sweden discovered holmium, in 1879, while working on erbia earth (erbium oxide).
  • Thulium oxide (holmia) was present as an impurity in erbia.
  • The element is named after Thule, the ancient name for Scandinavia.
  • Greek geographers thought Thule was the most northerly region of the habitable world.
  • The metal is readily oxidized by air or by water.
Name in other languages:
French: thulium
German: Thulium
Italian: tulio
Spanish: tulio

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Symbol: Sn
Atomic number: 50
Year discovered: Prehistoric; known since ancient times
Discovered by: Unknown.

Additional information:
  • Tin was known to the ancients and is mentioned in the Old Testament.
  • The earliest traceable history of tin is connected with the history of the copper-tin alloy, bronze.
  • Bronze articles from Ur, dated about 3500 B.C., were found to have tin contents between 10 and 15 percent.
  • The Phoenicians are believed to have played an important part in spreading the early bronze culture by trading in tin taken from Britain and Spain.
  • Early metal workers found it too soft for most purposes but mixed with copper it gives the alloy bronze, of Bronze Age fame.
  • Tin has given much to the cultural and economic growth of civilization in the fields of telecommunication (solder), transportation (bearings), architecture (bronze), music (bells and organ pipes), and food preservation (tinplate).
  • The unique physical and chemical properties of tin result in more widespread uses than for any other metal.
  • Since tin is not inexpensive, uses are quite selective and favor applications where other metals are not sufficient or where it is used sparingly.
  • For example, the electroplated tin coating on a food container stands far ahead of other metal coatings because it is “completely non-toxic”, it is very corrosion resistant in vacuum packs, tarnish resistant in air, attractive in appearance, and above all, the very thin coating is not expensive.
Name in other languages:
French: étain
German: Zinn
Italian: stagno
Spanish: estaño

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Symbol: To
Atomic number: 22
Year discovered: 1791
Discovered by: Reverend William Gregor (1761-1817), an English minister.

Additional information:
  • Titanium was discovered by the Reverend William Gregor, in 1791, because he was interested in mineralogy.
  • More out of curiosity than for any other reason, he analyzed as many odd minerals as he could find.
  • In 1791, he isolated a substance from one of these minerals that he thought might be a new element.
  • It was, and four years later, it was named “titanium” by German chemist, Martin Heinrich Klaproth.
  • Gregor called it “menchanite” (or “menaccanite”) after the Cornish town Manaccan near where he discovered it.
  • Klaproth named it for the mythological first sons of the earth, the Titans, an allusion to the incarnation of natural strength in the metal.
  • In 1797, Klaproth found that titanium also was present in the mineral “ilmenite” and recognized that it was the same element discovered in England at the same time by William Gregor.
  • In 1910, M. Hunter succeeded in isolating titanium by reducing titanium tetrachloride with sodium in an airtight steel cylinder.
  • Because of its excellent corrosion resistance, it is used in many applications in the chemical industry.
  • As a result of its light weight and high strength, particularly in alloy form, it is in demand for use in structural parts of high-speed aircraft, some bicycles, specialized-wheel chairs, etc.
Name in other languages:
French: titane
German: Titan
Italian: titanio
Spanish: titanio

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Symbol: W
Atomic number: 74
Year discovered: 1783
Discovered by: Don Fausto d’Elhuyar de Suvisa (1755-1833), Spanish chemist and mineralogist; and brother, Juan José d’Elhuyar (1788-182l), Spanish chemist and mineralogist.

Additional information:
  • The word “tungsten” may have been used first by A. F. Cronstedt, in 1755, who applied it to the calcium tungstate mineral subsequently known as scheelite.
  • In 1781, C. W. Scheele found that the mineral was a compound of lime with a previously unknown acid which he called tungstic acid.
  • During the same year, T. Bergman concluded that it should be possible to prepare a metal from the acid.
  • In 1783, two Spanish brothers, J. J. and F. d’Elhuyar, both of whom had studied mineralogy and chemistry at the Freiburg School of Mines, and one of whom (J. J.) had studied in Bergman’s laboratory at Uppsala, found that another mineral, wolframite, contained the same tungstic acid found in scheelite.
  • They were also the first to record the preparation of tungsten metal, which they made by reducing tungstic oxide with charcoal, which they called, “wolfram”.
  • The origin of the word wolfram is obscure.
  • The earliest mention of “wolfram” in literature was made by Lazarus Ercker in 1574.
  • Its spelling has gone through many modifications including wolfert, wolfrig, wolferam, wolfram, wolframit, and wolframicum.
  • In 1820, A. Breithaupt adopted the word wolframite for the mineral containing the tungstate of iron and manganese.
  • The preferred British and American usage is “tungsten” for the metal, whereas in Germany and a number of other European countries, “wolfram” is the accepted form.
  • Tungsten used to be known as “wolfram” (from wolframite, said to be named from “wolf rahm” or “spumi lupi”, because the ore interfered with the smelting of tin and appeared to devour the tin).
  • Although preceded by several helpful discoveries, a second development of exceptional importance in tungsten technology was that of cemented tungsten carbide in 1923 by K. Schröter in Germany.
  • The succeeding developments in carbide tools resulted in a small revolution in the machine tool industry.
  • The late 1950’s marked the beginning of the development of tungsten as a space technology material, notably for the throat sections of rocket engine nozzles.
  • Another application of tungsten is the shock-resisting steels, also known as tungsten chisel steels that contain approximately two percent tungsten and 0.50 percent carbon with small amounts of silicon, chromium, and vanadium.
  • These steels are oil hardening and have high resistance to shock, fatigue, and wear.
  • They are particularly well adapted for tools such as pneumatic chisels, heavy duty punches, and for hot work applications where considerable shock is involved.
Name in other languages:
French: tungsténe
German: Wolfram
Italian: tungsteno (wolframio)
Spanish: wolframio

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Symbol: Uub
Atomic number: 112
Year discovered: First event: February 1, 1996, 11:52 hours;
Second event: February 9, 1996, 22:37 hours.
Discovered by: Sigurd Hofmann, Victor Ninov, F. P. Hessberger, P. Armbruster, H. Folger, G. Münzenberg, H. J. Schött, and others; at Gesellschaft für Schwerionenforschung (GSI) in Darmstadt, Germany.

Additional information:
  • Element 112 was discovered on February 9, 1996, at 22:37 hours at the GSI (Gesellschaft für Schwerionenforschungin) at Darmstadt, Germany.
  • The identified isotope currently is the heaviest atom ever produced by man and has an atomic mass of 277, that is, 277 times heavier than hydrogen.
  • The new element was produced by fusing a zinc atom with a lead atom. To achieve this, the zinc atom was accelerated to high energies by the heavy ion accelerator UNILAC at GSI and directed onto a lead target.
  • On Thursday, March 18, 1999, in an exchange of e-mail with Dr. Sigurd Hofmann of GSI, he stated that his institute has proposed new names for Elements 110, 111, and 112 to the IUPAP and to the IUPAC; however, these organizations haven’t decided on what the new names will be yet. He also pointed out that those at GSI agreed not to make their proposed names public before they (IUPAP and IUPAC) have completed their final deliberations.
  • Dr. Sigurd Hofmann, also pointed out that there are no “practical” applications for Elements 110, 111, and 112, as such; however, “the elements may be used in other experiments, for instance, traps, investigation of chemical behavior, laser excitations, etc. Half-life and cross-sections determine what these applications will be.”
  • He added that, Elements 110, 111, and 112 are synthetics. When more is learned about their lifetimes and predictions about the stability of the properties of these elements can be determined; “new searches in nature will take place, if the half-lives for so far unknown isotopes will turn out to be long enough.”
  • Dr. Hofmann continued by writing that the previous names for elements 104-109, respectively (unnilquadium, unnilpentium, unnilhexium, unniseptium unniloctium, and unnilennium) were changed because they were too complicated to remember and so unacceptable by both professional scientists and non-professionals alike. He went on to say that the discoverers of the elements “should have a right to name them. That’s an old tradition. It makes the naming more ‘colorful.’ ”
Name in other languages:
French: ununbium
German: Ununbium
Italian: ununbio
Spanish: ununbio

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Symbol: Uun
Atomic number: 110
Year discovered: 1994
Discovered by: Sigurd Hofmann, Victor Ninov, F. P. Hessberger, P. Armbruster, H. Folger, G. Münzenberg, H. J. Schött, and others; at Gesellschaft für Schwerionenforschung (GSI) in Darmstadt, Germany.

Additional information:
  • On the 9th of November 1994 at 4:39 P.M. (16:39 hours) the first atom of element 110 was detected at the Gesellschaft für Schwerionenforschung (GSI) in Darmstadt, Germany.
  • The isotope discovered has an atomic number of 269 (that is, 269 times heavier than hydrogen).
  • Chemically, the element 110 is in the same Group as nickel, palladium, and platinum (Group 10). Unlike these lighter atoms, element 110 decays after a small fraction of a thousandth of a second into lighter elements by emitting a-particles that are the nuclei of helium atoms.
  • The new element was produced by fusing a nickel and a lead atom together. This was achieved by accelerating the nickel atoms to a high energy in the heavy ion accelerator UNILAC at GSI.
  • Over a period of many days, many billion billion nickel atoms were fired at a lead target in order to produce and identify a single atom of element 110.
  • The element 110 was the fourth element discovered at GSI between 1981 and 1984.
  • The elements 107 (bohrium), 108 (hassium), 109 (meitnerium) were all produced and identified there.
  • Since the discovery of element 110, elements 111 and 112 were also discovered at GSI.
  • See ununnilium (Uub), Atomic Number 112, for further data.
Name in other languages:
French: ununnilium
German: Ununnilium
Italian: ununnilio
Spanish: ununnilio

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Symbol: Uuu
Atomic number: 111
Year discovered: 1994
Discovered by: Sigurd Hofmann, Victor Ninov, F. P. Hessberger, P. Armbruster, H. Folger, G. Münzenberg, H. J. Schött, and others; at Gesellschaft für Schwerionenforschung (GSI) in Darmstadt, Germany.

Additional information:
  • Element 111 was discovered towards the end of 1994 one month after the discovery of element 110 at the GSI in Darmstadt, Germany.
  • Three atoms of an isotope 272 Uuu were produced in reactions between 209 Bi targets and 64 Ni projectiles.
  • To achieve this, the nickel atoms were accelerated to high energies by the heavy ion accelerator UNILAC at GSI and directed onto a lead target.
  • Chemically, element 111 should be in the same group as the elements copper, silver, and gold (Group 11).
  • See ununnilium (Uub), Atomic Number 112, for further data.
Name in other languages:
French: ununnilium
German: Ununnilium
Italian: ununnilio
Spanish: ununnilio

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Symbol: U
Atomic number: 92
Year discovered: 1789
Discovered by: Martin Heinrich Klaproth (1743-1817), a German chemist.

Additional information:
  • A yellow glass containing more than one percent uranium oxide, dating back to 79 A.D., was found near Naples in Italy.
  • During the first 150 years uranium was known, few uses could be found for it, and it was studied chiefly because it was the heaviest element then known.
  • In 1938, Otto Hahn and Fritz Strassmann discovered that the uranium nucleus undergoes fission when bombarded with neutrons, and thus offered the possibility of giving up its nuclear energy in a sustained chain reaction.
  • Klaproth recognized an unknown element in pitchblende from Saxony and attempted to isolate the metal in 1789.
  • To this new substance, Klaproth gave the name uranium in honor of Sir William Herschel’s discovery of the planet Uranus in 1781.
  • Uranium metal itself was first isolated, in 1841, by Eugène Melchoir Peligot, who reduced the anhydrous chloride with potassium.
  • The radioactive nature of uranium was not appreciated for another 55 years when, in 1896, Henri Becquerel detected its radioactivity.
  • The first self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction was conducted by Enrico Fermi at the University of Chicago on December 2, 1942.
  • With the development of methods for controlling the rate of fission, the first wartime and peacetime applications of nuclear energy soon followed.
  • The first atomic bomb test was detonated on July 16, 1945; and the first bomb used in warfare was dropped August 6, 1945.
  • Atomic power for propulsion was used for the first time in a submarine (USS “Nautilus”) in 1956, and one of the first full-scale nuclear power electrical generators began production at Shippingport, Pennsylvania, on December 2, 1957.
  • On March 28, 1979, America’s worst civilian nuclear power plant accident occurred.
  • It was on this day that a cooling system failure caused a near-meltdown at the Three Mile Island plant in Pennsylvania.
  • The accident so scared the American public that nuclear power went into an eclipse from which it has not recovered.
  • It is said that nuclear power itself wasn’t the problem.
  • The public lost confidence in the ability of power companies to manage their technology.
Name in other languages:
French: uranium
German: Uran
Italian: uranio
Spanish: uranio

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Symbol: V
Atomic number: 23
Year discovered: 1801
Discovered by: Andrés del Rio of Mexico City and Nils Gabriel Sefstrom (1787-1854), Swedish chemist and mineralogist.

Additional information:
  • Vanadium was discovered by Andrés Manuel del Rio at Mexico City in 1801.
  • He reported the discovery of a new element in vanadinite from Zimapán, Mexico, which he named “erythronium” because of the red color acquired by its salts when heated.
  • On re-examination, a few years later he concluded that he was mistaken and that the brown ore from Zimapán was merely a basic lead chromate.
  • In 1830, N. G. Sefström became interested in an extremely soft iron obtained from Taberg, Sweden, iron ore and on examination discovered in the ore, as well as in the wrought iron and slag.
  • Sefström called the new element vanadium, from Vanadis, the Scandinavian goddess of beauty and youth; a name suggested by the beautiful colors of its compounds in solution.
  • Earlier, F. Wöhler had undertaken a re-examination of the vanadinite ore from Zimapán and found (1830) that the new element, surmised and abandoned by Del Rio, was identical with Sefström’s vanadium.
  • As a result of illness caused by poisoning when working with hydrogen fluoride vapor, Wöhler failed to report his findings and thus did not receive credit for discovering the new element.
  • Metallic vanadium was not accomplished until 1867 when Henry Enfield Roscoe reduced vandium chloride with hydrogen gas to give vanadium metal.
  • Vanadium is widely distributed in various minerals, coal, and petroleum.
  • Vanadium metal sheet, strip, foil, bar, wire, and tubing have found use in high temperature service, in the chemical industry, and in bonding other metals.
  • The greatest uses of vanadium pentoxide and ammonium metavanadate, after the mid-20th century, were as catalysts, in coloring glass and cermic glazes, for driers in paints and inks, and for laboratory research.
Name in other languages:
French: vanadium
German: Vanadium
Italian: vanadio
Spanish: vanadio

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Symbol: Xe
Atomic number: 54
Year discovered: 1898
Discovered by: Sir William Ramsay (1852-1916), British chemist, and Morris William Travers (1872-1961), British chemist.

Additional information:
  • Xenon was discovered by Sir William Ramsay and Morris Travers in 1898 in the residue left after evaporating liquid air components.
  • Krypton and neon were discovered by the same methods and by the same workers only weeks earlier.
  • They had to work with huge volumes of air to produce just a little xenon since it turned out that it is only present to the extent of about 0.087 ppm in the atmosphere.
  • Xenon is used to a small extent in gaseous tube lighting, in negative glow lamps, and in lamps that produce flashes of light of extremely short duration such as are desired for high-speed photography.
  • It was used experimentally in arc lamps for lighthouses.
Name in other languages:
French: xénon
German: Xenon
Italian: xeno
Spanish: xenón

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Symbol: Yb
Atomic number: 70
Year discovered: 1878 and 1907.
Discovered by: Jean-Charles-Gallissard de Marignac (1817-1894), a Swiss chemist, and Georges Urbain (1872-1938), a French chemist.

Additional information:
  • In 1878, Marignac discovered a component, which he called ytterbia, in the earth then known as erbia.
  • In 1907, Georges Urbain and A. C. von Welsbach independently showed that Marignac’s earth was composed of two oxides which Urbain called “neoytterbia” and “lutecia”.
  • The elements in these earths are now known as “ytterbium” and “lutetium”, respectively.
  • They are identical with “aldebaranium” and “cassiopeium”, discovered independently and at about the same time by von Welsbach.
  • The impure element was first prepared by Klemm and Bonner, in 1937, who reduced ytterbium trichloride with potassium.
  • Ytterbium has no known uses.
Name in other languages:
French: ytterbium
German: Ytterbium
Italian: itterbio
Spanish: yterbio

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Symbol: Y
Atomic number: 39
Year discovered: 1794
Discovered by: Johan Gadolin (1760-1852), a Finnish chemist.

Additional information:
  • Yttria (yttrium oxide), was discovered by Johann Gadolin, in 1794, in a mineral called “gadolinite” from Ytterby.
  • Ytterby is the site of a quarry in Sweden which contains many unusual minerals containing erbium, terbium, and ytterbium as well as yttrium.
  • Friedrich Wohler obtained the impure element, in 1828, by reduction of anhydrous chloride with potassium.
  • Yttrium metal is used in alloys and in metallurgical operations.
  • Yttrium compounds are used in optical glasses and in special ceramics; as catalysts; and in electronic and optical devices including phosphors, garnets, and lasers.
  • Red phosphors containing yttrium and europium have greatly improved color television.
Name in other languages:
French: yttrium
German: Yttrium
Italian: ittrio
Spanish: ytrio

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Symbol: Zn
Atomic number: 30
Year discovered: Prehistoric to 1500
Re-Discovered by: Andreas Sigismund Marggraf (1709-1782), German chemist in 1746.

Additional information:
  • Centuries before zinc was recognized as a distinct element, zinc ores were used for making brass (a mixture of copper and zinc).
  • An alloy containing 87 percent zinc was found in prehistoric ruins in Transylvania.
  • Metallic zinc was produced in the 13th century in India by reducing calamine (zinc carbonate) with organic substances such as wool.
  • Credit, as the first European to produce metallic zinc as a separate entity in commercial quantities, must go to William Champion who, in 1738, obtained patent protection for a furnace fitted with an external condenser.
  • The metal was re-discovered in Europe by Andreas Sigismund Marggraf, in 1746, when he showed that it could be obtained by reducing calamine with charcoal.
  • Marggraf introduced the microscope as an aid in chemical work and distinguished between oxides of aluminum and calcium.
  • He also discovered sugar in the sugar beet (1747) thus founding the sugar-beet industry.
  • The largest single world use for zinc is for the protection of steel against atmospheric corrosion; in the U. S. this use ranks second to use in die-casting alloys.
  • The next-largest world use for zinc is for die-casting alloy; in the U. S. this use ranks first.
  • Alloyed with copper, zinc forms the important group of alloys known as the brasses.
  • Zinc can be readily rolled into sheet and in this form is used in building construction, giving long service at a reasonable cost.
  • Zinc is used in medicine in the form of various salts, most of which are antiseptic, astringent, irritant, caustic, or toxic.
  • Zinc preparations are used locally in alcoholic or watery solutions, as washes for eyes, ears, wounds, or ulcers.
  • The irritant and caustic salts of zinc are very dangerous if taken internally.
Name in other languages:
French: zinc
German: Zink
Italian: zinco
Spanish: cinc

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Symbol: Zr
Atomic number: 40
Year discovered: 1789
Discovered by: Martin Heinrich Klaproth (1743-1817), a German chemist.

Additional information:
  • The name zircon probably originated from the Arabic “zargun”, which describes the color of the gemstone now known as zircon.
  • Klaproth obtained new oxide from the semiprecious jewel zircon and named the new metal contained in the oxide “zirconium”.
  • An important advance did not come until 1925 when massive, ductile metal was made by two Dutch scientists, A. E. van Arkel and J. H. de Boer.
  • In the middle 1940’s, W. J. Kroll developed a cheaper process for making the metal.
  • Despite its interesting properties, zirconium probably would have remained of minor importance had not its use in nuclear reactors developed shortly before 1950.
  • Because of its high resistance to corrosion, it has found increasing use in the fabrication of pumps, valves, heat exchangers, filters, and other chemical handling and processing equipment.
  • Zirconium compounds have been used in treating fabrics for rot and weather resistance, floor waxes, leather tanning, in photographic flashbulbs, and in petroleum-cracking catalysts.
Name in other languages:
French: zirconium
German: Zirconium
Italian: zirconio
Spanish: circonio

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