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Lanthanum Facts

Lanthanum is one of the rare metals found in the earth. It is considered to be the first metal of the lanthanide series. Here are some interesting facts about it.
ScienceStruck Staff
Lanthanum is a member of the periodic table of elements. It is one of the rare metals that are found in the bowels of the earth and has many uses due to its adaptive characteristics. For all those interested in knowing more about this wonderful and rare metal, this article is just the place.

Interesting Facts About Lanthanum
  • The name 'lanthanum' is derived from the Greek word lanthaneis, which means 'to lie hidden'.
  • The symbol for this chemical element is 'La'.
  • It is the most abundant of the rare earth elements and is found in India, Brazil, Australia, and Africa.
  • Lanthanum is obtained form the ores monazite and bastnasite.
  • The atomic number of lanthanum is 57.
  • Its atomic weight is 138.9055.
  • The element lanthanum was discovered by a famous Swedish chemist, Carl Gustaf Mosander, in the form of oxide lanthana, in 1839.
  • Lanthanum has the following electron configuration - [Xe] 5d1 6s2.
  • It falls in Block F, Group 3, Period 6 of the periodic table, in which all members have similar physical and chemical properties.
  • Its atomic volume is 22.5cm3/mol.
  • Its density (at 293 K) is 6.7 g/cm3
  • Its atomic radius is 187 pm.
  • The shell structure is 2,8,18,18,9,2.
  • Its ionization energy, meaning the minimum energy that an atom requires to release an electron, has 3 levels. 1st ionization energy - 538.1 kJ mol-1, 2nd ionization energy - 1067 kJ mol-1 and 3rd ionization energy - 1850 kJ mol-1
  • Lanthanum is so soft that it can be cut with a knife.
  • It is silvery white in color and is a metal.
  • It is highly ductile which means that it can be easily drawn into wires.
  • It is also highly malleable, meaning it can be flattened into sheets easily, as well.
  • The crystal structure of lanthanum is hexagonal.
  • Lanthanum reacts with water to form its hydroxide.
  • Chemically, it is highly reactive. It reacts rapidly with silicon, halogens, nitrogen, boron, selenium, carbon, phosphorus, and sulfur.
  • When exposed to air, rapid oxidization takes place.
  • Lanthanum is a good conductor of both, heat and electricity.
These were some facts about the element lanthanum. Now let us see what are its uses.

Uses of Lanthanum
Given below are some common uses of lanthanum.
  • Lanthanum is used in making cast iron, to improve its malleability and ductility.
  • Since it combines with phosphorus compounds in water, it is used in water treatment.
  • Many pool products contain lanthanum because it gets rid of the phosphates that algae feed on.
  • Lanthanum-stabilized zirconia is used for its electrical and mechanical properties.
  • Lanthanum carbonate, a lanthanum compound, when used according to prescription and in moderation, can be used in treating patients with kidney disease.
  • Lanthanum is also used in the glass manufacturing industry.
  • Lights for movies and television studies use lanthanum in them.
  • Another use of lanthanum is in camera lenses and eyeglasses.
  • Lanthanide compounds are used in the form of catalysts to produce synthetic and petroleum products.
  • Lanthanum oxide and boride have the capacity for strong emissivity of electrons. This makes them useful as hot cathode materials in electronic vacuum tubes.
  • Lanthanum is excellent for using in batteries of automobiles.
  • Hydrogen sponge alloys are alloys which can retain up to 400 times their own volume of hydrogen in themselves. Lanthanum is a metal used in making such alloys for hydrogen storage.
  • Lanthanum is also used in the manufacture of lighters.
Vacuum Tube
Camera lens
Periodic table of Elements
Electron diagram of Lanthanum