Chemical Elements, erbium to hydrogen,
Chart 3 of 8

erbium | europium | fermium | florine | francium | gadolinium | gallium | germanium | gold | hafnium | hassium | helium | holmium | hydrogen

This is third of eight groups of chem elements available in the cross-reference searches.

The Chemical Elements Chart is here.

The Chemical-Elements Table Index is here.

Symbol: Er
Atomic number: 68
Year discovered: 1843
Discovered by: Carl Gustav Mosander (1797-1858), a Swedish scientist.

Additional information:
  • In 1842, Gustav Mosander separated yttria, found in the mineral gadolinite, into three fractions which he called yttria, erbia, and terbia.
  • The names erbia and terbia became confused in this early period.
  • After 1860, Mosander’s terbia was known as erbia, and after 1877, the earlier known erbia became terbia.
  • The erbia of this period was later shown to consist of five oxides, now known as erbia, scandia, holmia, thulia and ytterbia.
  • Klemm and Bommer first produced reasonably pure erbium metal in 1934 by reducing anhydrous chloride with potassium vapor.
  • “A surge of innovation is carrying fiber-optic communications forward on both land and sea.
  • For example, the latest fiber-optic submarine cables have amplifiers every 30 miles or so. In them, the strand of coiled-up glass fiber contains a small percentage of the element erbium. An additional, external laser — powered with electricity — bathes the fiber. Excited erbium atoms release their energy in tune with the oncoming signal sending it on its way stronger than before. Such optical amplifiers went into service in the early 1990s, replacing electronic amplifiers that were bottlenecks against faster transmission rates.” (“Spaghetti under the sea” by Charles W. Petit in U.S. News & World Report, August 30, 1999; page 58).
Name in other languages:
French: erbium
German: Erbium
Italian: erbio
Spanish: erbio

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Symbol: Eu
Atomic number: 63
Year discovered: 1896
Discovered by: Eugène-Anatole Demarçay (1852-1903), a French chemist.

Additional information:
  • The discovery of europium is generally credited to Eugéne-Anatole Demarçay, who separated the earth in reasonably pure form in 1901 from a material containing largely samarium.
  • Pure europium metal was not isolated until much more recently.
  • It is used in the manufacture of nuclear control rods.
Name in other languages:
French: europium
German: Europium
Italian: europio
Spanish: europio

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Symbol: Fm
Atomic number: 100
Year discovered: 1952
Discovered by: Albert Ghiorso (born July 15, 1915) and co-workers at Argonne, Los Alamos, New Mexico; and the University of California at Berkeley.

Additional information:
  • Fermium was identified by Albert Ghiorso and co-workers (Berkeley, California, USA) in 1952 in the radioactive debris from a thermonuclear explosion in the Pacific.
  • Enrico Fermi (1901-1954) died in the months preceding the laboratory study of the elements and this element was named in his honor.
  • Fermi was born in Italy, went to the U.S. in 1938, and became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1944.
  • He is considered one of the chief architects of the nuclear age.
  • Fermi is given credit for discovering slow neutrons.
  • In 1938, he was awarded the Nobel prize for physics and the discovery of neutron-induced nuclear reactions.
  • He worked on the atomic bomb project at Los Alamos, New Mexico.
Name in other languages:
French: fermium
German: Fermium
Italian: fermio
Spanish: fermio

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Symbol: F
Atomic number: 9
Year discovered: 1886
Discovered by: Ferdinard-Frédéric-Henri Moissan (1852-1907), a French chemist.

Additional information:
  • For three-quarters of a century, chemists had known that a certain element must exist; and they had even given it a name: “flourine”.
  • A number of chemists tried to isolate it and found the process not only difficult but dangerous, for the materials they had to work with were poisonous.
  • It seems that George Gore made a little fluorine through an electrolytic process, but his apparatus exploded when the fluorine produced reacted with hydrogen from the other electrode.
  • The element finally was isolated in 1886 by Ferdinard-Frédéric-Henri Moissan who used an apparatus constructed of platinum, because it was one of the very few substances that fluorine would not attack and combine with instantly.
  • He figured that if he could isolate some fluorine in platinum, that fluorine would stay isolated; and he was right.
  • For this, he received the Nobel Prize in chemistry in 1906 (receiving, according to one report, one vote more than Mendeléyev did, which if this is true, it was an injustice because Mendeléyev was thought to have been more deserving); according to Isaac Asimov in his Asimov’s Chronology of Science & Discovery, 1989.
Name in other languages:
French: fluor
German: Fluor
Italian: fluoro
Spanish: flúor

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Symbol: Fr
Atomic number: 87
Year discovered: 1939
Discovered by: Marguerite Perey (1909-1975), a French physicist.

Additional information:
  • Francium was discovered in 1939 by Marguerite Perey of the Curie Institute in Paris, (France) and its existence was predicted by Mendeléyev during the 1870’s.
  • Since its properties should track those of cesium/caesium rather closely, he called it eka-caesium.
  • Perey discovered a type of beta activity that was not quite like that of any other known isotope while working with the radioactive element actinium.
  • She tracked it down and found that it resulted from the breakdown of an isotope of element number 87 which is now called, “francium”.
Name in other languages:
French: francium
German: Francium
Italian: francio
Spanish: francio

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Symbol: Gd
Atomic number: 64
Year discovered: 1880

Discovered by: Jean-Charles Gallissard de Marignac (1817-1894), a Swiss chemist.

Additional information:
  • Spectroscopic lines due to gadolinium were observed by Jean-Charles Galissard de Marignac in 1880 in samples of didymia and gadolinite.
  • Gadolinia, the oxide of gadolinium, was separated by Paul-Émile Lecoq de Biosbaudran (1838-1912) in 1886.
  • The element was named for the mineral gadolinite from which this rare earth was originally obtained.
Name in other languages:
French: gadolinium
German: Gadolinium
Italian: gadolinio
Spanish: gadolinio

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Symbol: Ga
Atomic number: 31
Year discovered: 1875
Discovered by: Paul-Émile Lecoq de Boisbaudran (1838-1912), a French chemist.

Additional information:
  • Gallium was an element whose existence was predicted by Dmitry Ivanovich Mendeléyev in 1871 when he said that the then unknown element gallium should resemble aluminum in its properties.
  • He therefore suggested the name eka-aluminium (symbol Ea).
  • His predictions for the properties of gallium are remarkably close to reality.
  • Gallium was discovered spectroscopically by de Boisbaudran when he found a zinc ore that displayed hitherto unknown spectral lines.
Name in other languages:
French: gallium
German: Gallium
Italian: gallio
Spanish: galio

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Symbol: Ge
Atomic number: 32
Year discovered: 1886
Discovered by: Clemens Alexander Winkler (1838-1904), a German chemist.

Additional information:
  • Winkler analyzed silver ore and, when he had completed his work, he found that the elements he had located added up to only 93 percent of the whole.
  • Puzzled, he searched out the remaining 7 percent and, in 1886, he found a hitherto unrecognized element, which he named “germanium” for Germany.
  • Germanium was discovered in a mineral called argyrodite.
  • Germanium was an element whose existence was predicted by D. I. Mendeléyev in 1871.
  • He suggested that the then unknown element germanium should resemble silicon in its properties.
  • He also suggested; therefore, the name eka-silicon (symbol Es).
  • His predictions for the properties of germanium are remarkably close to reality.
  • Three predictions were made, three predictions were fulfilled.
Name in other languages:
French: germanium
German: Germanium
Italian: germanio
Spanish: germanio

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Symbol: Au
Atomic number: 79
Year discovered: Known since ancient times.
Discovered by: Unknown

Additional information:
  • Gold was known and highly valued from ancient times.
  • Egyption inscriptions dating back to 2600 B.C. describe gold and it is mentioned several times in the Old Testament.
  • Gold is usually alloyed in jewelry to give it more strength, and the term carat describes the amount of gold present (24 carats is pure gold).
  • It is estimated that all the gold in the world, so far refined, could be placed in a single cube 60 feet on each side.
  • It is metallic, with a yellow color when in a mass, but when finely divided it may be black, ruby, or purple.
  • It is the most malleable and ductile metal; someone estimated that one ounce (28 g) of gold can be beaten out to 300 square feet.
  • Since it is a soft metal, it is usually alloyed to give it more strength.
  • It is a good conductor of heat and electricity, and is unaffected by air and most reagents.
  • Gold is found free in nature and associated with quartz, pyrite and other minerals.
  • Two thirds of the world’s supply comes from South Africa, and two thirds of USA production is from South Dakota and Nevada.
  • Gold is found in sea water, but no effective economic process has been designed (yet) to extract it from this source.
Name in other languages:
French: or
German: Gold
Italian: oro
Spanish: oro

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Symbol: Hf
Atomic number: 72
Year discovered: 1923
Discovered by: Dirk Coster (1889-1950), Dutch physicist, and György C. de Hevesty (1885-1966), Hungarian chemist; developed in a Copenhagen laboratory.

Additional information:
  • Hafnium was thought to be present in various zirconium minerals and concentrations for many years prior to its discovery in 1923.
  • It was finally identified in zircon (a zirconium ore) from Norway by means of X-ray analysis.
  • It was named in honor of the city in which the discovery was made, namely, Copenhgen.
  • Most zirconium minerals contain 1% to 5% hafnium and it is their chemical similarity which made their separation difficult.
  • It was originally separated from zirconium by repeated recrystallization of double ammonium or potassium fluorides.
  • Earlier, G. Urbain and A. Dauvillier had given the name “celtium” to the element of atomic number 72, for which Urbain obtained some evidence from X-ray spectra in 1911.
Name in other languages:
French: hafnium
German: Hafnium
Italian: afnio
Spanish: hafnio

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Symbol: Hs
Atomic number: 108
Year discovered: 1984
Discovered by: Peter Armbruster, Gottfried Münzenberg and co-workers

Additional information:
  • Discovered at Gesellschaft für Schwerionenforschung (GSI) in Darmstadt, Germany.
  • Named for the German state of Hessen, where the major cities of Frankfurt, Wiesbaden (capital of Hessen), Kassel, and Darmstadt are located.
  • Hassium was formerly called unniloctium, symbol Uno, which in Latin represents the number “108”.
Name in other languages:
French: hassium
German: Hassium
Italian: hassio
Spanish: hassio

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Symbol: He
Atomic number: 2
Year discovered: 1868
Discovered by: Piere-Jules-César Janssen (1824-1907), French astronomer; and Sir Joseph Norman Lockyer (1836-1920), English astrophysicist.

Additional information:
  • A French astronomer, Pierre-Jules-César Janssen, first obtained evidence for the existence of helium during the solar eclipse of 1868 in India when he detected new lines in the solar spectrum.
  • No known element at that time was known to give these lines and so it was apparent that the sun contained an element not previously known.
  • This initiated a search for the new element on planet earth.
  • In 1895, Sir William Ramsay discovered helium in clevite, a uranium mineral.
  • Sir William Crookes and Sir Norman Lockyer succeeded in identifying helium.
  • It was discovered independently in clevite by Cleve and Langley at about the same time.
  • Lockyer and Frankland suggested the name “helium”.
  • There was a problem of proper apportionment of credit for the discovery of the gaseous nature of the helium.
  • Janssen actually observed the bright lines in the spectrum of the chromosphere two months before Lockyer, but Lockyer conceived the idea of investigating the chromosphere with the spectroscope in 1866 and actually originated the method for doing it.
  • Probably the first terrestrial helium was observed in a laboratory by W. F. Hillebrand, of the U. S. geological survey, in 1891, when he experimented with an inert gas which he obtained by heating uraninite, a uranium oxide.
  • Hillebrand did not recognize the gas as a new element, in fact he rejected such a notion when it was suggested by one of his colleagues.
  • It remained for Sir William Ramsay, a London professor, to discover the existence of helium on earth.
  • Ramsay’s discovery of helium as a constituent of the earth was announced in simultaneous communications to the British Royal society and the French Academy of Sciences on March 26, 1895.
  • In 1905, H. P. Cady and D. F. McFarland found that natural gas produced from a shallow well near Dexter, Kansas, contained 1.84% helium, and when helium bearing natural gas was found in other fields, large sources of helium became available.
  • Helium gas is unreactive, colorless, and odorless.
  • It is available in pressurized tanks and is the second most abundant element in the universe after hydrogen.
  • Helium is used in lighter-than-air balloons and while heavier than hydrogen, is far safer since helium does not burn.
  • Speaking after breathing an atmosphere rich in helium results in a squeaky, high pitched voice.
  • There is very little helium on earth since nearly all that was present during and immediately after the earth’s formation has long since been lost as it is so light.
  • While there is currently some helium in the atmosphere, its isolation from that source by liquefaction and separation of air is normally not economic.
  • This is because it is easier, and cheaper, to isolate the gas from certain natural gases.
  • Concentrations of helium in natural gas in the USA are as high as 7% and other good sources include natural gas from some sources in Poland.
Name in other languages:
French: hélium
German: Helium
Italian: elio
Spanish: helio

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Symbol: Ho
Atomic number: 67
Year discovered: 1878 and1879.
Discovered by: J. L. Soret in 1878 and independently by Per Teodor Cleve (1840-1905), a Swedish chemist in 1879.

Additional information:
  • Cleve named the element from the Latinized word “Holmia” for Stockholm, his native city.
  • The element occurs associated with other rare earths in the minerals gadolinite, euxenite, xenotime, samarskite, and others.
  • The metal and its compounds are used for research purposes and their limited applications are based largely upon distinctive electronic and magnetic properties.
Name in other languages:
French: holmium
German: Holmium
Italian: olmio
Spanish: holmio

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Symbol: H
Atomic number: 1
Year discovered: 1766
Discovered by: Henry Cavendish (1731-1810), English chemist and physicist.

Additional information:
  • Robert Boyle (1627-1691), English chemist and physicist, published a paper, “New experiments touching the relation between flame and air” in 1671, in which he described the reaction between iron filings and dilute acids that resulted in the evolution of gaseous hydrogen, “inflammable solution of Mars” [iron].
  • It was only much later that it was recognized as an element by Henry Cavendish, who independently discovered nitrogen as well, in 1766, when he collected it over mercury and described it as “inflammable air from metals”.
  • Cavendish found that some metals, when acted on by acid, liberated a gas that was highly inflammable and which he therefore called “fire air”.
  • Early experimenters, notably Boyle (1661), had obtained the gas, but Cavendish was the first to study it carefully and report on its properties, so he is usually given the credit for having discovered it.
  • Cavendish accurately described hydrogen’s properties but erroneously thought that the gas originated from the metal rather than from the acid.
  • Hydrogen was named by French chemist Antoine-Laurent Lavoisier (1743-1794), who is universally considered the “father of modern chemistry”.
  • Deuterium gas, made up from deuterium, a heavy isotope of hydrogen, was discovered, in 1931, by Harold Urey, a professor of chemistry at Chicago and California.
  • Hydrogen is present in almost all animal and vegetable matter, in compounds in which it is joined to carbon and other elements.
  • In the form of hydrocarbons, it is a constituent of petroleum and coal and is contained in all acids.
  • The first industrial use of hydrogen was the inflation of balloons by Jacques A. C. Charles in 1783.
  • Liquid hydrogen is used in the laboratory to produce extremely low temperatures.
Name in other languages:
French: hydrogène
German: Wasserstoff
Italian: idrogeno