# Holmium

Holmium is a chemical element with symbol Ho and atomic number 67. Part of the lanthanide series, holmium is a rare-earth element. Holmium was discovered by Swedish chemist Per Theodor Cleve. Its oxide was first isolated from rare-earth ores in 1878. The element's name comes from Holmia, the Latin name for the city of Stockholm.

Elemental holmium is a relatively soft and malleable silvery-white metal. It is too reactive to be found uncombined in nature, but when isolated, is relatively stable in dry air at room temperature. However, it reacts with water and corrodes readily and also burns in air when heated.

Holmium is found in the minerals monazite and gadolinite and is usually commercially extracted from monazite using ion-exchange techniques. Its compounds in nature and in nearly all of its laboratory chemistry are trivalently oxidized, containing Ho(III) ions. Trivalent holmium ions have fluorescent properties similar to many other rare-earth ions (while yielding their own set of unique emission light lines), and thus are used in the same way as some other rare earths in certain laser and glass-colorant applications.

Holmium has the highest magnetic permeability of any element and therefore is used for the polepieces of the strongest static magnets. Because holmium strongly absorbs neutrons, it is also used as a burnable poison in nuclear reactors.

Holmium,  67Ho
Holmium
Pronunciation/ˈhoʊlmiəm/ (HOHL-mee-əm)
Appearancesilvery white
Standard atomic weight Ar, std(Ho)164.930328(7)[1]
Holmium in the periodic table
 Hydrogen Helium Lithium Beryllium Boron Carbon Nitrogen Oxygen Fluorine Neon Sodium Magnesium Aluminium Silicon Phosphorus Sulfur Chlorine Argon Potassium Calcium Scandium Titanium Vanadium Chromium Manganese Iron Cobalt Nickel Copper Zinc Gallium Germanium Arsenic Selenium Bromine Krypton Rubidium Strontium Yttrium Zirconium Niobium Molybdenum Technetium Ruthenium Rhodium Palladium Silver Cadmium Indium Tin Antimony Tellurium Iodine Xenon Caesium Barium Lanthanum Cerium Praseodymium Neodymium Promethium Samarium Europium Gadolinium Terbium Dysprosium Holmium Erbium Thulium Ytterbium Lutetium Hafnium Tantalum Tungsten Rhenium Osmium Iridium Platinum Gold Mercury (element) Thallium Lead Bismuth Polonium Astatine Radon Francium Radium Actinium Thorium Protactinium Uranium Neptunium Plutonium Americium Curium Berkelium Californium Einsteinium Fermium Mendelevium Nobelium Lawrencium Rutherfordium Dubnium Seaborgium Bohrium Hassium Meitnerium Darmstadtium Roentgenium Copernicium Nihonium Flerovium Moscovium Livermorium Tennessine Oganesson

Ho

Es
dysprosiumholmiumerbium
67
Groupgroup n/a
Periodperiod 6
Blockf-block
Element category  lanthanide
Electron configuration[Xe] 4f11 6s2
Electrons per shell
2, 8, 18, 29, 8, 2
Physical properties
Phase at STPsolid
Melting point1734 K ​(1461 °C, ​2662 °F)
Boiling point2873 K ​(2600 °C, ​4712 °F)
Density (near r.t.)8.79 g/cm3
when liquid (at m.p.)8.34 g/cm3
Heat of fusion17.0 kJ/mol
Heat of vaporization251 kJ/mol
Molar heat capacity27.15 J/(mol·K)
Vapor pressure
P (Pa) 1 10 100 1 k 10 k 100 k
at T (K) 1432 1584 (1775) (2040) (2410) (2964)
Atomic properties
Oxidation states+1, +2, +3 (a basic oxide)
ElectronegativityPauling scale: 1.23
Ionization energies
• 1st: 581.0 kJ/mol
• 2nd: 1140 kJ/mol
• 3rd: 2204 kJ/mol
Spectral lines of holmium
Other properties
Natural occurrenceprimordial
Crystal structurehexagonal close-packed (hcp)
Speed of sound thin rod2760 m/s (at 20 °C)
Thermal expansionpoly: 11.2 µm/(m·K) (at r.t.)
Thermal conductivity16.2 W/(m·K)
Electrical resistivitypoly: 814 nΩ·m (at r.t.)
Magnetic orderingparamagnetic
Young's modulus64.8 GPa
Shear modulus26.3 GPa
Bulk modulus40.2 GPa
Poisson ratio0.231
Vickers hardness410–600 MPa
Brinell hardness500–1250 MPa
CAS Number7440-60-0
History
DiscoveryJacques-Louis Soret (1878)
Main isotopes of holmium
Iso­tope Abun­dance Half-life (t1/2) Decay mode Pro­duct
163Ho syn 4570 y ε 163Dy
164Ho syn 29 min ε 164Dy
165Ho 100% stable
166Ho syn 26.763 h β 166Er
167Ho syn 3.1 h β 167Er

## Characteristics

### Physical properties

Ho2O3, left: natural light, right: under a cold-cathode fluorescent lamp

Holmium is a relatively soft and malleable element that is fairly corrosion-resistant and stable in dry air at standard temperature and pressure. In moist air and at higher temperatures, however, it quickly oxidizes, forming a yellowish oxide. In pure form, holmium possesses a metallic, bright silvery luster.

Holmium oxide has some fairly dramatic color changes depending on the lighting conditions. In daylight, it has a tannish yellow color. Under trichromatic light, it is fiery orange-red, almost indistinguishable from the appearance of erbium oxide under the same lighting conditions. The perceived color change is related to the sharp absorption bands of holmium interacting with a subset of the sharp emission bands of the trivalent ions of europium and terbium, acting as phosphors.[2]

Holmium has the highest magnetic moment (10.6 µ
B
) of any naturally occurring element and possesses other unusual magnetic properties. When combined with yttrium, it forms highly magnetic compounds.[3] Holmium is paramagnetic at ambient conditions, but is ferromagnetic at temperatures below 19 K.[4]

### Chemical properties

Holmium metal tarnishes slowly in air and burns readily to form holmium(III) oxide:

4 Ho + 3 O2 → 2 Ho2O3

Holmium is quite electropositive and is generally trivalent. It reacts slowly with cold water and quite quickly with hot water to form holmium hydroxide:

2 Ho (s) + 6 H2O (l) → 2 Ho(OH)3 (aq) + 3 H2 (g)

Holmium metal reacts with all the halogens:

2 Ho (s) + 3 F2 (g) → 2 HoF3 (s) [pink]
2 Ho (s) + 3 Cl2 (g) → 2 HoCl3 (s) [yellow]
2 Ho (s) + 3 Br2 (g) → 2 HoBr3 (s) [yellow]
2 Ho (s) + 3 I2 (g) → 2 HoI3 (s) [yellow]

Holmium dissolves readily in dilute sulfuric acid to form solutions containing the yellow Ho(III) ions, which exist as a [Ho(OH2)9]3+ complexes:[5]

2 Ho (s) + 3 H2SO4 (aq) → 2 Ho3+ (aq) + 3 SO2−
4
(aq) + 3 H2 (g)

Holmium's most common oxidation state is +3. Holmium in solution is in the form of Ho3+ surrounded by nine molecules of water. Holmium dissolves in acids.[6]

### Isotopes

Natural holmium contains one stable isotope, holmium-165. Some synthetic radioactive isotopes are known; the most stable one is holmium-163, with a half-life of 4570 years. All other radioisotopes have ground-state half-lives not greater than 1.117 days, and most have half-lives under 3 hours. However, the metastable 166m1Ho has a half-life of around 1200 years because of its high spin. This fact, combined with a high excitation energy resulting in a particularly rich spectrum of decay gamma rays produced when the metastable state de-excites, makes this isotope useful in nuclear physics experiments as a means for calibrating energy responses and intrinsic efficiencies of gamma ray spectrometers.

## History

Holmium (Holmia, Latin name for Stockholm) was discovered by Jacques-Louis Soret and Marc Delafontaine in 1878 who noticed the aberrant spectrographic absorption bands of the then-unknown element (they called it "Element X").[7][8] The following year, Per Teodor Cleve independently discovered the element while he was working on erbia earth (erbium oxide).[9][10]

Using the method developed by Carl Gustaf Mosander, Cleve first removed all of the known contaminants from erbia. The result of that effort was two new materials, one brown and one green. He named the brown substance holmia (after the Latin name for Cleve's home town, Stockholm) and the green one thulia. Holmia was later found to be the holmium oxide, and thulia was thulium oxide.[11] In Henry Moseley's classic paper on atomic numbers, holmium was assigned an atomic number of 66. Evidently, the holmium preparation he had been given to investigate had been grossly impure, dominated by neighboring (and unplotted) dysprosium. He would have seen x-ray emission lines for both elements, but assumed that the dominant ones belonged to holmium, instead of the dysprosium impurity.

## Occurrence and production

Like all other rare earths, holmium is not naturally found as a free element. It does occur combined with other elements in gadolinite (the black part of the specimen illustrated to the right), monazite and other rare-earth minerals. No holmium-dominant mineral has yet been found.[12] The main mining areas are China, United States, Brazil, India, Sri Lanka, and Australia with reserves of holmium estimated as 400,000 tonnes.[11]

Holmium makes up 1.4 parts per million of the Earth's crust by mass. This makes it the 56th most abundant element in the Earth's crust. Holmium makes up 1 part per million of the soils, 400 parts per quadrillion of seawater, and almost none of Earth's atmosphere. Holmium is rare for a lanthanide.[13] It makes up 500 parts per trillion of the universe by mass.[14]

It is commercially extracted by ion exchange from monazite sand (0.05% holmium), but is still difficult to separate from other rare earths. The element has been isolated through the reduction of its anhydrous chloride or fluoride with metallic calcium.[15] Its estimated abundance in the Earth's crust is 1.3 mg/kg. Holmium obeys the Oddo–Harkins rule: as an odd-numbered element, it is less abundant than its immediate even-numbered neighbors, dysprosium and erbium. However, it is the most abundant of the odd-numbered heavy lanthanides. The principal current source are some of the ion-adsorption clays of southern China. Some of these have a rare-earth composition similar to that found in xenotime or gadolinite. Yttrium makes up about 2/3 of the total by mass; holmium is around 1.5%. The original ores themselves are very lean, maybe only 0.1% total lanthanide, but are easily extracted.[16] Holmium is relatively inexpensive for a rare-earth metal with the price about 1000 USD/kg.[17]

## Applications

A solution of 4% holmium oxide in 10% perchloric acid, permanently fused into a quartz cuvette as an optical calibration standard

Holmium has the highest magnetic strength of any element, and therefore is used to create the strongest artificially generated magnetic fields, when placed within high-strength magnets as a magnetic pole piece (also called a magnetic flux concentrator).[18] Since it can absorb nuclear fission-bred neutrons, it is also used as a burnable poison to regulate nuclear reactors.[11]

Holmium-doped yttrium iron garnet (YIG) and yttrium lithium fluoride (YLF) have applications in solid-state lasers, and Ho-YIG has applications in optical isolators and in microwave equipment (e.g., YIG spheres). Holmium lasers emit at 2.1 micrometres.[19] They are used in medical, dental, and fiber-optical applications.[3]

Holmium is one of the colorants used for cubic zirconia and glass, providing yellow or red coloring.[20] Glass containing holmium oxide and holmium oxide solutions (usually in perchloric acid) have sharp optical absorption peaks in the spectral range 200–900 nm. They are therefore used as a calibration standard for optical spectrophotometers[21] and are available commercially.[22]

The radioactive but long-lived 166m1Ho (see "Isotopes" above) is used in calibration of gamma-ray spectrometers.[23]

In March 2017, IBM announced that they have developed a technique to store one bit of data on a single Holmium atom set on a bed of magnesium oxide.[24]

## Biological role

Holmium plays no biological role in humans, but its salts are able to stimulate metabolism.[15] Humans typically consume about a milligram of holmium a year. Plants do not readily take up holmium from the soil. Some vegetables have had their holmium content measured, and it amounted to 100 parts per trillion.[6]

### Toxicity

Large amounts of holmium salts can cause severe damage if inhaled, consumed orally, or injected. The biological effects of holmium over a long period of time are not known. Holmium has a low level of acute toxicity.[25]

• Holmium compounds

## References

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2. ^ Yiguo Su; Li, Guangshe; Chen, Xiaobo; Liu, Junjie; Li, Liping (2008). "Hydrothermal Synthesis of GdVO4:Ho3+ Nanorods with a Novel White-light Emission". Chemistry Letters. 37 (7): 762–763. doi:10.1246/cl.2008.762.
3. ^ a b C. K. Gupta; Nagaiyar Krishnamurthy (2004). Extractive metallurgy of rare earths. CRC Press. p. 32. ISBN 0-415-33340-7.
4. ^ Jiles, David (1998). Introduction to magnetism and magnetic materials. CRC Press. p. 228. ISBN 0-412-79860-3.
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9. ^ Per Teodor Cleve (1879). "Sur deux nouveaux éléments dans l'erbine". Comptes rendus de l'Académie des sciences. 89: 478–480. Cleve named holmium on p. p. 480: "Je propose pour ce métal le nom de holmium, Ho, dérivé du nom latinisé de Stockholm, dont les environs renferment tant de minéraux riches en yttria." (I propose for this metal the name of "holmium", Ho, [which is] derived from the Latin name for Stockholm, the environs of which contain so many minerals rich in yttrium.)
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20. ^ "Cubic zirconia". Archived from the original on 2009-04-24. Retrieved 2009-06-06.
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