70Yb Ytterbium

Year Discovered


Discovered By

Jean Galissard de Marignac of Switzerland

Biological Rating

Not necessary for life.


Ytterbium is the fourth element to be named after the town of Ytterby, Sweden. It is a soft, silvery-white metal that reacts with water and acids and very slowly reacts with air. Ytterbium is used in alloys with stainless steel. It also is used in stress gauges and lasers. Ytterbium when irradiated can provide X-rays in portable X-ray machines.

Biological Benefits

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

Role in Life Processes

No known benefits for life processes in plants and animals.


Ytterbium is chiefly obtained from the minerals euxenite and xenotime. It is mined in the USA, China, Russia, Australia, Canada and India.