68Er Erbium

Year Discovered


Discovered By

Carl Mosander of Sweden

Biological Rating

Not necessary for life.


Named after the town of Ytterby, Sweden, erbium is a soft, silvery-white metal that is moderately reactive, slowly reacting with air, water and acids. Erbium, holmium and dysprosium are nearly identical to each other. Erbium is used in heat-absorbing glass, photographic filters, and as a fiber-optic amplifier. It colors glass and porcelain pink and is often used to coat sunglasses. Erbium is used in the nuclear industry, as well as in alloys, especially with vanadium and titanium.

Biological Benefits

Erbium has no known biological use. It does act to stimulate the metabolism.

Role in Life Processes

No known benefit for life processes in plants and animals.


Erbium is obtained from bastnasite and monazite, where it occurs as an impurity. It is mined in the USA, China, Russia, Australia, and India.