Lutetium | Descriptions, Properties, Uses & Facts

Lutetium | Descriptions, Properties, Uses & Facts

Exploring Lutetium: Unveiling the Secrets of Element 71


Lutetium, denoted by the chemical symbol Lu, is a fascinating element that occupies a discreet position in the periodic table. With its unique properties and applications, lutetium has become a subject of interest for scientists and researchers. In this blog, we will delve into the various aspects of lutetium, from its atomic structure to its practical applications.

Atomic Structure:

Symbol: Lu

Atomic Number: 71

Atomic Mass: 174.9668 u

Position in Periodic Table: Lutetium is the last element in the lanthanide series, situated in period 6, group 3.

Electron Configuration and Valency:

Electron Configuration: [Xe] 4f14 5d1 6s2    

or Electron Configuration in long form: 1s2 2s2 2p6 3s2 3p6 3d10 4s2 4p6 4d10 4f14 5s2 5p6 5d1 6s2

Valency: Lutetium typically exhibits a valency of +3, as it loses three electrons to achieve a stable configuration.

Chemical and Physical Properties:

  • Lutetium is a silvery-white, rare-earth metal that is relatively stable in the air.
  • It has a high melting point of 1,663 degrees Celsius and a boiling point of 3,402 degrees Celsius.
  • Lutetium has a density of 9.841 g/cm³, making it one of the densest elements.

Lutetium Compounds:

  • Lutetium oxide (Lu2O3) and lutetium fluoride (LuF3) are among the notable lutetium compounds.
  • These compounds are utilized in various applications, including the production of phosphors for LED technology.

Chemical Reactions with Other Elements:

  • Lutetium reacts with oxygen to form lutetium oxide (Lu2O₃) and with halogens to produce lutetium halides.
  • It exhibits a tendency to form +3 oxidation state in its compounds.

Occurrence and Production:

  • Lutetium is a rare element, constituting only a small fraction of the Earth's crust.
  • It is primarily obtained as a byproduct during the extraction of other rare-earth elements.
  • Separation and purification of lutetium involve complex processes, such as ion exchange and solvent extraction.


  • Lutetium has applications in various fields, including medicine, research, and industry.
  • In the medical field, lutetium-177 is used in cancer treatment, particularly in targeted radionuclide therapy.
  • Its stable isotopes find applications in scientific research, such as in the field of nuclear physics.
  • Lutetium compounds are used in the production of phosphors for LED lights.

Interesting Facts:

1. The element is named after Lutetia, the Latin name for Paris, as it was discovered around the same time that the Eiffel Tower was being constructed.

2. Lutetium was the last naturally occurring stable element to be discovered, with its isolation achieved in 1907 by French scientist Georges Urbain and Austrian scientist Carl Auer von Welsbach independently.

3. Due to its scarcity and high production costs, lutetium is one of the more expensive elements.


Lutetium, element 71, may be a lesser-known element, but its significance in various scientific and medical applications cannot be overlooked. From its unique atomic structure to its role in cutting-edge technologies, lutetium continues to contribute to advancements in diverse fields. As our understanding of this element deepens, so too will its potential for future innovations and discoveries.

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