Lanthanum is a chemical element with symbol La and atomic number 57. It is a soft, ductile, silvery-white metal that tarnishes rapidly when exposed to air and is soft enough to be cut with a knife. It is the eponym of the lanthanide series, a group of 15 similar elements between lanthanum and lutetium in the periodic table, of which lanthanum is the first and the prototype. It is also sometimes considered the first element of the 6th-period transition metals, which would put it in group 3, although lutetium is sometimes placed in this position instead. Lanthanum is traditionally counted among the rare earth elements. The usual oxidation state is +3. Lanthanum has no biological role in humans but is essential to some bacteria. It is not particularly toxic to humans but does show some antimicrobial activity.

Lanthanum usually occurs together with cerium and the other rare earth elements. Lanthanum was first found by the Swedish chemist Carl Gustav Mosander in 1839 as an impurity in cerium nitrate – hence the name lanthanum, from the Ancient Greek λανθάνειν (lanthanein), meaning "to lie hidden". Although it is classified as a rare earth element, lanthanum is the 28th most abundant element in the Earth's crust, almost three times as abundant as lead. In minerals such as monazite and bastnäsite, lanthanum composes about a quarter of the lanthanide content.[4] It is extracted from those minerals by a process of such complexity that pure lanthanum metal was not isolated until 1923.

Lanthanum compounds have numerous applications as catalysts, additives in glass, carbon arc lamps for studio lights and projectors, ignition elements in lighters and torches, electron cathodes, scintillators, GTAW electrodes, and other things. Lanthanum carbonate is used as a phosphate binder in cases of renal failure. It is also an element in the 6th period and in the 3rd group.

Lanthanum,  57La
Pronunciation/ˈlænθənəm/ (LAN-thə-nəm)
Appearancesilvery white
Standard atomic weight Ar, std(La)138.90547(7)[1]
Lanthanum 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


Atomic number (Z)57
Groupgroup 3
Periodperiod 6
Element category  lanthanide, sometimes considered a transition metal
Electron configuration[Xe] 5d1 6s2
Electrons per shell
2, 8, 18, 18, 9, 2
Physical properties
Phase at STPsolid
Melting point1193 K ​(920 °C, ​1688 °F)
Boiling point3737 K ​(3464 °C, ​6267 °F)
Density (near r.t.)6.162 g/cm3
when liquid (at m.p.)5.94 g/cm3
Heat of fusion6.20 kJ/mol
Heat of vaporization400 kJ/mol
Molar heat capacity27.11 J/(mol·K)
Vapor pressure (extrapolated)
P (Pa) 1 10 100 1 k 10 k 100 k
at T (K) 2005 2208 2458 2772 3178 3726
Atomic properties
Oxidation states+1, +2, +3 (a strongly basic oxide)
ElectronegativityPauling scale: 1.10
Ionization energies
  • 1st: 538.1 kJ/mol
  • 2nd: 1067 kJ/mol
  • 3rd: 1850.3 kJ/mol
Atomic radiusempirical: 187 pm
Covalent radius207±8 pm
Color lines in a spectral range
Spectral lines of lanthanum
Other properties
Natural occurrenceprimordial
Crystal structuredouble hexagonal close-packed (dhcp)
Double hexagonal close packed crystal structure for lanthanum
Speed of sound thin rod2475 m/s (at 20 °C)
Thermal expansionα, poly: 12.1 µm/(m·K) (at r.t.)
Thermal conductivity13.4 W/(m·K)
Electrical resistivityα, poly: 615 nΩ·m (at r.t.)
Magnetic orderingparamagnetic[2]
Magnetic susceptibility+118.0·10−6 cm3/mol (298 K)[3]
Young's modulusα form: 36.6 GPa
Shear modulusα form: 14.3 GPa
Bulk modulusα form: 27.9 GPa
Poisson ratioα form: 0.280
Mohs hardness2.5
Vickers hardness360–1750 MPa
Brinell hardness350–400 MPa
CAS Number7439-91-0
DiscoveryCarl Gustaf Mosander (1838)
Main isotopes of lanthanum
Iso­tope Abun­dance Half-life (t1/2) Decay mode Pro­duct
137La syn 6×104 y ε 137Ba
138La 0.089% 1.05×1011 y ε 138Ba
β 138Ce
139La 99.911% stable



Lanthanum is the first element and prototype of the lanthanide series.[a] In the periodic table, it appears to the right of the alkaline earth metal barium and to the left of the lanthanide cerium. Lanthanum is often considered to be a group 3 element, along with its lighter congeners scandium and yttrium and its heavier congener, the radioactive actinium,[6] although this classification is sometimes disputed. Similarly to scandium, yttrium, and actinium, the 57 electrons of a lanthanum atom are arranged in the configuration [Xe]5d16s2, with three valence electrons outside the noble gas core. In chemical reactions, lanthanum almost always gives up these three valence electrons from the 5d and 6s subshells to form the +3 oxidation state, achieving the stable configuration of the preceding noble gas xenon.[7] Some lanthanum(II) compounds are also known, but they are much less stable.[8]

Among the lanthanides, lanthanum is exceptional as it does not have any 4f electrons; indeed, the sudden contraction and lowering of energy of the 4f orbital that is important for the chemistry of the lanthanides only begins to happen at cerium. Thus it is only very weakly paramagnetic, unlike the strongly paramagnetic later lanthanides (with the exceptions of the last two, ytterbium and lutetium, where the 4f shell is completely full).[9] Furthermore, since the melting points of the trivalent lanthanides are related to the extent of hybridisation of the 6s, 5d, and 4f electrons, lanthanum has the second-lowest (after cerium) melting point among all the lanthanides: 920 °C.[10] The lanthanides become harder as the series is traversed: as expected, lanthanum is a soft metal. Lanthanum has a relatively high resistivity of 615 nΩm at room temperature; in comparison, the value for the good conductor aluminium is only 26.50 nΩm.[11][12] Lanthanum is the least volatile of the lanthanides.[13] Like most of the lanthanides, lanthanum has a hexagonal crystal structure at room temperature. At 310 °C, lanthanum changes to a face-centered cubic structure, and at 865 °C, it changes to a body-centered cubic structure.[12]


As expected from periodic trends, lanthanum has the largest atomic radius of the lanthanides and the stable group 3 elements. Hence, it is the most reactive among them, tarnishing slowly in air and burning readily to form lanthanum(III) oxide, La2O3, which is almost as basic as calcium oxide.[14] A centimeter-sized sample of lanthanum will corrode completely in a year as its oxide spalls off like iron rust, instead of forming a protective oxide coating like aluminium and lanthanum's lighter congeners scandium and yttrium.[15] Lanthanum reacts with the halogens at room temperature to form the trihalides, and upon warming will form binary compounds with the nonmetals nitrogen, carbon, sulfur, phosphorus, boron, selenium, silicon and arsenic.[7][8] Lanthanum reacts slowly with water to form lanthanum(III) hydroxide, La(OH)3.[16] In dilute sulfuric acid, lanthanum readily forms the aquated tripositive ion [La(H2O)9]3+: this is colorless in aqueous solution since La3+ has no f electrons.[16] Lanthanum is the strongest and hardest base among the lanthanides and group 3 elements, which is again expected from its being the largest of them.[17]


Naturally occurring lanthanum is made up of two isotopes, the stable 139La and the primordial long-lived radioisotope 138La. 139La is by far the most abundant, making up 99.910% of natural lanthanum: it is produced in the s-process (slow neutron capture, which occurs in low- to medium-mass stars) and the r-process (rapid neutron capture, which occurs in core-collapse supernovae).[18] The very rare isotope 138La is one of the few primordial odd-odd nuclei, with a long half-life of 1.05×1011 years: it is one of the proton-rich p-nuclei which cannot be produced in the s- or r-processes. 138La, along with the even rarer 180mTa, is produced in the ν-process, where neutrinos interact with stable nuclei.[19] All other lanthanum isotopes are synthetic: with the exception of 137La with a half-life of about 60,000 years, all of them have half-lives less than a day, and most have half-lives less than a minute. The isotopes 139La and 140La occur as fission products of uranium.[18]


Lanthanum oxide is a white solid that can be prepared by direct reaction of its constituent elements. Due to the large size of the La3+ ion, La2O3 adopts a hexagonal 7-coordinate structure that changes to the 6-coordinate structure of scandium oxide (Sc2O3) and yttrium oxide (Y2O3) at high temperature. When it reacts with water, lanthanum hydroxide is formed: a lot of heat is evolved in the reaction and a hissing sound is heard. Lanthanum hydroxide will react with atmospheric carbon dioxide to form the basic carbonate.[20]

Lanthanum fluoride is insoluble in water and can be used as a qualitative test for the presence of La3+. The heavier halides are all very soluble deliquescent compounds. The anhydrous halides are produced by direct reaction of their elements, as heating the hydrates causes hydrolysis: for example, heating hydrated LaCl3 produces LaOCl.[20]

Lanthanum reacts exothermically with hydrogen to produce the dihydride LaH2, a black, pyrophoric, brittle, conducting compound with the calcium fluoride structure.[21] This is a non-stoichiometric compound, and further absorption of hydrogen is possible, with a concomitant loss of electrical conductivity, until the more salt-like LaH3 is reached.[20] Like LaI2 and LaI, LaH2 is probably an electride compound.[20]

Due to the large ionic radius and great electropositivity of La3+, there is not much covalent contribution to its bonding and hence it has a limited coordination chemistry, like yttrium and the other lanthanides.[22] Lanthanum oxalate does not dissolve very much in alkali-metal oxalate solutions, and [La(acac)3(H2O)2] decomposes around 500 °C. Oxygen is the most common donor atom in lanthanum complexes, which are mostly ionic and often have high coordination numbers over 6: 8 is the most characteristic, forming square antiprismatic and dodecadeltahedral structures. These high-coordinate species, reaching up to coordination number 12 with the use of chelating ligands such as in La2(SO4)3·9H2O, often have a low degree of symmetry because of stereo-chemical factors.[22]

Lanthanum chemistry tends not to involve π bonding due to the electron configuration of the element: thus its organometallic chemistry is quite limited. The best characterized organolanthanum compounds are the cyclopentadienyl complex La(C5H5)3, which is produced by reacting anhydrous LaCl3 with NaC5H5 in tetrahydrofuran, and its methyl-substituted derivatives.[23]


Mosander Carl Gustav bw
Carl Gustaf Mosander, discoverer of lanthanum

In 1751, the Swedish mineralogist Axel Fredrik Cronstedt discovered a heavy mineral from the mine at Bastnäs, later named cerite. Thirty years later, the fifteen-year-old Vilhelm Hisinger, from the family owning the mine, sent a sample of it to Carl Scheele, who did not find any new elements within. In 1803, after Hisinger had become an ironmaster, he returned to the mineral with Jöns Jacob Berzelius and isolated a new oxide which they named ceria after the dwarf planet Ceres, which had been discovered two years earlier.[24] Ceria was simultaneously independently isolated in Germany by Martin Heinrich Klaproth.[25] Between 1839 and 1843, ceria was shown to be a mixture of oxides by the Swedish surgeon and chemist Carl Gustaf Mosander, who lived in the same house as Berzelius: he separated out two other oxides which he named lanthana and didymia.[26] He partially decomposed a sample of cerium nitrate by roasting it in air and then treating the resulting oxide with dilute nitric acid.[27] Since lanthanum's properties differed only slightly from those of cerium, and occurred along with it in its salts, he named it from the Ancient Greek λανθάνειν [lanthanein] (lit. to lie hidden).[25] Relatively pure lanthanum metal was first isolated in 1923.[8]

Occurrence and production

Lanthanum is the third-most abundant of all the lanthanides, making up 39 mg/kg of the Earth's crust, behind neodymium at 41.5 mg/kg and cerium at 66.5 mg/kg. It is almost three times as abundant as lead in the Earth's crust.[28] Despite being among the so-called "rare earth metals", lanthanum is thus not rare at all, but it is historically so named because it is rarer than "common earths" such as lime and magnesia, and historically only a few deposits were known. Lanthanum is considered a rare earth metal because the process to mine it is difficult, time-consuming, and expensive.[8] Lanthanum is rarely the dominant lanthanide found in the rare earth minerals, and in their chemical formulae it is usually preceded by cerium. Rare examples of La-dominant minerals are monazite-(La) and lanthanite-(La).[29]

Monazite acid cracking process

The La3+ ion is similarly-sized to the early lanthanides of the cerium group (those up to samarium and europium) that immediately follow in the periodic table, and hence it tends to occur along with them in phosphate, silicate and carbonate minerals, such as monazite (MIIIPO4) and bastnäsite (MIIICO3F), where M refers to all the rare earth metals except scandium and the radioactive promethium (mostly Ce, La, and Y).[30] Bastnäsite is usually lacking in thorium and the heavy lanthanides, and the purification of the light lanthanides from it is less involved. The ore, after being crushed and ground, is first treated with hot concentrated sulfuric acid, evolving carbon dioxide, hydrogen fluoride, and silicon tetrafluoride: the product is then dried and leached with water, leaving the early lanthanide ions, including lanthanum, in solution.[31]

The procedure for monazite, which usually contains all the rare earths as well as thorium, is more involved. Monazite, because of its magnetic properties, can be separated by repeated electromagnetic separation. After separation, it is treated with hot concentrated sulfuric acid to produce water-soluble sulfates of rare earths. The acidic filtrates are partially neutralized with sodium hydroxide to pH 3-4. Thorium precipitates out of solution as hydroxide and is removed. After that, the solution is treated with ammonium oxalate to convert rare earths to their insoluble oxalates. The oxalates are converted to oxides by annealing. The oxides are dissolved in nitric acid that excludes one of the main components, cerium, whose oxide is insoluble in HNO3. Lanthanum is separated as a double salt with ammonium nitrate by crystallization. This salt is relatively less soluble than other rare earth double salts and therefore stays in the residue.[8] Care must be taken when handling some of the residues as they contain 228Ra, the daughter of 232Th, which is a strong gamma emitter.[31] Lanthanum is relatively easy to extract as it has only one neighbouring lanthanide, cerium, which can be removed by making use of its ability to be oxidised to the +4 state; thereafter, lanthanum may be separated out by the historical method of fractional crystallization of La(NO3)3·2NH4NO3·4H2O, or by ion-exchange techniques when higher purity is desired.[31]

Lanthanum metal is obtained from its oxide by heating it with ammonium chloride or fluoride and hydrofluoric acid at 300-400 °C to produce the chloride or fluoride:[8]

La2O3 + 6 NH4Cl → 2 LaCl3 + 6 NH3 + 3 H2O

This is followed by reduction with alkali or alkaline earth metals in vacuum or argon atmosphere:[8]

LaCl3 + 3 Li → La + 3 LiCl

Also, pure lanthanum can be produced by electrolysis of molten mixture of anhydrous LaCl3 and NaCl or KCl at elevated temperatures.[8]


Glowing gas mantle
A Coleman white gas lantern mantle burning at full brightness

The first historical application of lanthanum was in gas lantern mantles. Carl Auer von Welsbach used a mixture of 60% magnesium oxide, 20% lanthanum oxide, and 20% yttrium oxide, which he called Actinophor and patented in 1885. The original mantles gave a green-tinted light and were not very successful, and his first company, which established a factory in Atzgersdorf in 1887, failed in 1889.[32]

Modern uses of lanthanum include:

hot cathode
Zblan transmit
Comparison of infrared transmittance of ZBLAN glass and silica
As most hybrid cars use nickel-metal hydride batteries, massive quantities of lanthanum are required for the production of hybrid automobiles. A typical hybrid automobile battery for a Toyota Prius requires 10 to 15 kilograms (22 to 33 lb) of lanthanum. As engineers push the technology to increase fuel efficiency, twice that amount of lanthanum could be required per vehicle.[35][36]

Biological role

Lanthanum has no known biological role in humans. The element is very poorly absorbed after oral administration and when injected its elimination is very slow. Lanthanum carbonate (Fosrenol) was approved as a phosphate binder to absorb excess phosphate in cases of end stage renal disease.[49]

While lanthanum has pharmacological effects on several receptors and ion channels, its specificity for the GABA receptor is unique among trivalent cations. Lanthanum acts at the same modulatory site on the GABA receptor as zinc, a known negative allosteric modulator. The lanthanum cation La3+ is a positive allosteric modulator at native and recombinant GABA receptors, increasing open channel time and decreasing desensitization in a subunit configuration dependent manner.[52]

Lanthanum is an essential cofactor for the methanol dehydrogenase of the methanotrophic bacterium Methylacidiphilum fumariolicum SolV, although the great chemical similarity of the lanthanides means that it may be substituted with cerium, praseodymium, or neodymium without ill effects, and with the smaller samarium, europium, or gadolinium giving no side effects other than slower growth.[53]


GHS pictograms The flame pictogram in the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS)
GHS signal word Danger
P223, P231+232, P370+378, P422[54]
NFPA 704
Flammability code 4: Will rapidly or completely vaporize at normal atmospheric pressure and temperature, or is readily dispersed in air and will burn readily. Flash point below 23 °C (73 °F). E.g., propaneHealth code 0: Exposure under fire conditions would offer no hazard beyond that of ordinary combustible material. E.g., sodium chlorideReactivity code 2: Undergoes violent chemical change at elevated temperatures and pressures, reacts violently with water, or may form explosive mixtures with water. E.g., phosphorusSpecial hazard W: Reacts with water in an unusual or dangerous manner. E.g., cesium, sodiumNFPA 704 four-colored diamond

Lanthanum has a low to moderate level of toxicity and should be handled with care. The injection of lanthanum solutions produces hyperglycemia, low blood pressure, degeneration of the spleen and hepatic alterations.[55] The application in carbon arc light led to the exposure of people to rare earth element oxides and fluorides, which sometimes led to pneumoconiosis.[56][57] As the La3+ ion is similar in size to the Ca2+ ion, it is sometimes used as an easily traced substitute for the latter in medical studies.[58] Lanthanum, like the other lanthanides, is known to affect human metabolism, lowering cholesterol levels, blood pressure, appetite, and risk of blood coagulation. When injected into the brain, it acts as a painkiller, similarly to morphine and other opiates, though the mechanism behind this is still unknown.[58]


  1. ^ Lanthanum is not always considered to be a lanthanide, partly because the term "lanthanide" means "like lanthanum" and therefore logically cannot include lanthanum itself, and also because lanthanum lacks the 4f electrons characteristic of the rest of the lanthanide series. This use of the term "lanthanide" is thus limited to the fourteen elements between cerium and lutetium inclusive.[5]


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Further reading

  • The Industrial Chemistry of the Lanthanons, Yttrium, Thorium and Uranium, by R. J. Callow, Pergamon Press, 1967
  • Extractive Metallurgy of Rare Earths, by C. K. Gupta and N. Krishnamurthy, CRC Press, 2005
  • Nouveau Traite de Chimie Minerale, Vol. VII. Scandium, Yttrium, Elements des Terres Rares, Actinium, P. Pascal, Editor, Masson & Cie, 1959
  • Chemistry of the Lanthanons, by R. C. Vickery, Butterworths 1953

Actinium is a chemical element with symbol Ac and atomic number 89. It was first isolated by French chemist André-Louis Debierne in 1899. Friedrich Oskar Giesel later independently isolated it in 1902 and, unaware that it was already known, gave it the name emanium. Actinium gave the name to the actinide series, a group of 15 similar elements between actinium and lawrencium in the periodic table. It is also sometimes considered the first of the 7th-period transition metals, although lawrencium is less commonly given that position. Together with polonium, radium, and radon, actinium was one of the first non-primordial radioactive elements to be isolated.

A soft, silvery-white radioactive metal, actinium reacts rapidly with oxygen and moisture in air forming a white coating of actinium oxide that prevents further oxidation. As with most lanthanides and many actinides, actinium assumes oxidation state +3 in nearly all its chemical compounds. Actinium is found only in traces in uranium and thorium ores as the isotope 227Ac, which decays with a half-life of 21.772 years, predominantly emitting beta and sometimes alpha particles, and 228Ac, which is beta active with a half-life of 6.15 hours. One tonne of natural uranium in ore contains about 0.2 milligrams of actinium-227, and one tonne of thorium contains about 5 nanograms of actinium-228. The close similarity of physical and chemical properties of actinium and lanthanum makes separation of actinium from the ore impractical. Instead, the element is prepared, in milligram amounts, by the neutron irradiation of 226Ra in a nuclear reactor. Owing to its scarcity, high price and radioactivity, actinium has no significant industrial use. Its current applications include a neutron source and an agent for radiation therapy targeting cancer cells in the body and killing them.

Group 3 element

Group 3 is a group of elements in the periodic table. This group, like other d-block groups, should contain four elements, but it is not agreed what elements belong in the group. Scandium (Sc) and yttrium (Y) are always included, but the other two spaces are usually occupied by lanthanum (La) and actinium (Ac), or by lutetium (Lu) and lawrencium (Lr); less frequently, it is considered the group should be expanded to 32 elements (with all the lanthanides and actinides included) or contracted to contain only scandium and yttrium. When the group is understood to contain all of the lanthanides, its trivial name is the rare-earth metals.

Three group 3 elements occur naturally: scandium, yttrium, and either lanthanum or lutetium. Lanthanum continues the trend started by two lighter members in general chemical behavior, while lutetium behaves more similarly to yttrium. While the choice of lutetium would be in accordance with the trend for period 6 transition metals to behave more similarly to their upper periodic table neighbors, the choice of lanthanum is in accordance with the trends in the s-block, which the group 3 elements are chemically more similar to. They all are silvery-white metals under standard conditions. The fourth element, either actinium or lawrencium, has only radioactive isotopes. Actinium, which occurs only in trace amounts, continues the trend in chemical behavior for metals that form tripositive ions with a noble gas configuration; synthetic lawrencium is calculated and partially shown to be more similar to lutetium and yttrium. So far, no experiments have been conducted to synthesize any element that could be the next group 3 element. Unbiunium (Ubu), which could be considered a group 3 element if preceded by lanthanum and actinium, might be synthesized in the near future, it being only three spaces away from the current heaviest element known, oganesson.

Isotopes of lanthanum

Naturally occurring lanthanum (57La) is composed of one stable (139La) and one radioactive (138La) isotope, with the stable isotope, 139La, being the most abundant (99.91% natural abundance). There are 38 radioisotopes that have been characterized, with the most stable being 138La, with a half-life of 1.02×1011 years; 137La, with a half-life of 60,000 years and 140La, with a half-life of 1.6781 days. The remaining radioactive isotopes have half-lives that are less than a day and the majority of these have half-lives that are less than 1 minute. This element also has 12 nuclear isomers, the longest-lived of which is 132mLa, with a half-life of 24.3 minutes.

The isotopes of lanthanum range in atomic weight from 116.95 u (117La) to 154.96 u (155La).


The lanthanide () or lanthanoid () series of chemical elements comprises the 15 metallic chemical elements with atomic numbers 57 through 71, from lanthanum through lutetium. These elements, along with the chemically similar elements scandium and yttrium, are often collectively known as the rare earth elements.

The informal chemical symbol Ln is used in general discussions of lanthanide chemistry to refer to any lanthanide. All but one of the lanthanides are f-block elements, corresponding to the filling of the 4f electron shell; depending on the source, either lanthanum or lutetium is considered a d-block element, but is included due to its chemical similarities with the other 14. All lanthanide elements form trivalent cations, Ln3+, whose chemistry is largely determined by the ionic radius, which decreases steadily from lanthanum to lutetium.

They are called lanthanides because the elements in the series are chemically similar to lanthanum. Both lanthanum and lutetium have been labeled as group 3 elements, because they have a single valence electron in the 5d shell. However, both elements are often included in discussions of the chemistry of lanthanide elements. Lanthanum is the more often omitted of the two, because its placement as a group 3 element is somewhat more common in texts and for semantic reasons: since "lanthanide" means "like lanthanum", it has been argued that lanthanum cannot logically be a lanthanide, but IUPAC acknowledges its inclusion based on common usage.In presentations of the periodic table, the lanthanides and the actinides are customarily shown as two additional rows below the main body of the table, with placeholders or else a selected single element of each series (either lanthanum and actinium, or lutetium and lawrencium) shown in a single cell of the main table, between barium and hafnium, and radium and rutherfordium, respectively. This convention is entirely a matter of aesthetics and formatting practicality; a rarely used wide-formatted periodic table inserts the lanthanide and actinide series in their proper places, as parts of the table's sixth and seventh rows (periods).

Lanthanide contraction

The lanthanide contraction is the greater-than-expected decrease in ionic radii of the elements in the lanthanide series from atomic number 57, lanthanum, to 71, lutetium, which results in smaller than otherwise expected ionic radii for the subsequent elements starting with 72, hafnium. The term was coined by the Norwegian geochemist Victor Goldschmidt in his series "Geochemische Verteilungsgesetze der Elemente".

Lanthanum(III) bromide

Lanthanum(III) bromide (LaBr3) is an inorganic halide salt of lanthanum. When pure, it is a colorless white powder. The single crystals of LaBr3 are hexagonal crystals with melting point of 783 °C. It is highly hygroscopic and water-soluble. There are several hydrates, La3Br·x H2O, of the salt also known. It is often used as a source of lanthanum in chemical synthesis and as a scintillation material in certain applications.

Lanthanum(III) chloride

Lanthanum chloride is the inorganic compound with the formula LaCl3. It is a common salt of lanthanum which is mainly used in research. It is a white solid that is highly soluble in water and alcohols.

Lanthanum aluminate-strontium titanate interface

The interface between lanthanum aluminate (LaAlO3) and strontium titanate (SrTiO3) is a notable materials interface because it exhibits properties not found in its constituent materials. Individually, LaAlO3 and SrTiO3 are non-magnetic insulators, yet LaAlO3/SrTiO3 interfaces can exhibit electrical conductivity, superconductivity, ferromagnetism, large negative in-plane magnetoresistance, and giant persistent photoconductivity. The study of how these properties emerge at the LaAlO3/SrTiO3 interface is a growing area of research in condensed matter physics.

Lanthanum carbonate

Lanthanum carbonate, La2(CO3)3, is the salt formed by lanthanum(III) cations and carbonate anions. It is an ore of lanthanum metal, (Bastnäsite) along with monazite.

Lanthanum decahydride

Lanthanum decahydride is a polyhydride or superhydride compound of lanthanum and hydrogen (LaH10) that shows promise of being a high temperature superconductor. It has a transition temperature measured of 7°C, but is only stable at extremely high pressures around 200 gigapascals. Other measurements suggest a superconductor transition temperature of −23°C which is still a record high as of 2018. Prior to these measurements, the existence and properties of this substance had been predicted by computational chemistry. A cubic form can be synthesised at 1000°C, and a hexagonal crystal structure can be formed at room temperature.The cubic form has each lanthanum atom surrounded by 32 hydrogen atoms, which form the vertices of an 18 faced shape called a chamfered cube.

Lanthanum hexaboride

Lanthanum hexaboride (LaB6, also called lanthanum boride and LaB) is an inorganic chemical, a boride of lanthanum. It is a refractory ceramic material that has a melting point of 2210 °C, and is insoluble in water and hydrochloric acid. It has a low work function and one of the highest electron emissivities known, and is stable in vacuum. Stoichiometric samples are colored intense purple-violet, while boron-rich ones (above LaB6.07) are blue. Ion bombardment changes its color from purple to emerald green.The principal use of lanthanum hexaboride is in hot cathodes, either as a single crystal or as a coating deposited by physical vapor deposition. Hexaborides, such as lanthanum hexaboride (LaB6) and cerium hexaboride (CeB6), have low work functions, around 2.5 eV. They are also somewhat resistant to cathode poisoning. Cerium hexaboride cathodes have a lower evaporation rate at 1700 K than lanthanum hexaboride, but they become equal at temperatures above 1850 K. Cerium hexaboride cathodes have one and half the lifetime of lanthanum hexaboride, due to the former's higher resistance to carbon contamination. Hexaboride cathodes are about ten times "brighter" than tungsten cathodes, and have 10–15 times longer lifetime. Devices and techniques in which hexaboride cathodes are used include electron microscopes, microwave tubes, electron lithography, electron beam welding, X-ray tubes, and free electron lasers. Lanthanum hexaboride slowly evaporates from the heated cathodes and forms deposits on the Wehnelt cylinders and apertures. LaB6 is also used as a size/strain standard in X-ray powder diffraction to calibrate instrumental broadening of diffraction peaks.LaB6 is a superconductor with a relatively low transition temperature of 0.45 K.

Lanthanum oxide

Lanthanum oxide, chemical formula La2O3, is an inorganic compound containing the rare earth element lanthanum and oxygen. It is used in some ferroelectric materials, as a component of optical materials, and is a feedstock for certain catalysts, among other uses.

Lanthanum trifluoride

Lanthanum trifluoride is a refractory ionic compound of lanthanum and fluorine.

Period 6 element

A period 6 element is one of the chemical elements in the sixth row (or period) of the periodic table of the elements, including the lanthanides. The periodic table is laid out in rows to illustrate recurring (periodic) trends in the chemical behaviour of the elements as their atomic number increases: a new row is begun when chemical behaviour begins to repeat, meaning that elements with similar behaviour fall into the same vertical columns. The sixth period contains 32 elements, tied for the most with period 7, beginning with caesium and ending with radon. Lead is currently the last stable element; all subsequent elements are radioactive. For bismuth, however, its only primordial isotope, 209Bi, has a half-life of more than 1019 years, over a billion times longer than the current age of the universe. As a rule, period 6 elements fill their 6s shells first, then their 4f, 5d, and 6p shells, in that order; however, there are exceptions, such as gold.

Periodic table

The periodic table, also known as the periodic table of elements, is a tabular display of the chemical elements, which are arranged by atomic number, electron configuration, and recurring chemical properties. The structure of the table shows periodic trends. The seven rows of the table, called periods, generally have metals on the left and non-metals on the right. The columns, called groups, contain elements with similar chemical behaviours. Six groups have accepted names as well as assigned numbers: for example, group 17 elements are the halogens; and group 18 are the noble gases. Also displayed are four simple rectangular areas or blocks associated with the filling of different atomic orbitals.

The organization of the periodic table can be used to derive relationships between the various element properties, and also to predict chemical properties and behaviours of undiscovered or newly synthesized elements. Russian chemist Dmitri Mendeleev published the first recognizable periodic table in 1869, developed mainly to illustrate periodic trends of the then-known elements. He also predicted some properties of unidentified elements that were expected to fill gaps within the table. Most of his forecasts proved to be correct. Mendeleev's idea has been slowly expanded and refined with the discovery or synthesis of further new elements and the development of new theoretical models to explain chemical behaviour. The modern periodic table now provides a useful framework for analyzing chemical reactions, and continues to be widely used in chemistry, nuclear physics and other sciences.

The elements from atomic numbers 1 (hydrogen) through 118 (oganesson) have been discovered or synthesized, completing seven full rows of the periodic table. The first 94 elements all occur naturally, though some are found only in trace amounts and a few were discovered in nature only after having first been synthesized. Elements 95 to 118 have only been synthesized in laboratories or nuclear reactors. The synthesis of elements having higher atomic numbers is currently being pursued: these elements would begin an eighth row, and theoretical work has been done to suggest possible candidates for this extension. Numerous synthetic radionuclides of naturally occurring elements have also been produced in laboratories.

Periodic table (detailed cells)

The periodic table is a tabular method of displaying the chemical elements. It can show much information, after name, symbol and atomic number. Also, for each element mean atomic mass value for the natural isotopic composition of each element can be noted.

The two layout forms originate from two graphic forms of presentation of the same periodic table. Historically, when the f-block was identified it was drawn below the existing table, with markings for its in-table location (this page uses dots or asterisks). Also, a common presentation is to put all 15 lanthanide and actinide columns below, while the f-block only has 14 columns. One lanthanide and actinide each are d-block elements, belonging to group 3 with scandium and yttrium, though whether these are the first of each series (lanthanum and actinium) or the last (lutetium and lawrencium) has been disputed. The tables below show lanthanum and actinium as group 3 elements, as this is the more common form in the literature.

Although precursors to this table exist, its invention is generally credited to Russian chemist Dmitri Mendeleev in 1869. Mendeleev invented the table to illustrate recurring ("periodic") trends in the properties of the elements. The layout of the table has been refined and extended over time, as new elements have been discovered, and new theoretical models have been developed to explain chemical behavior.


Praseodymium is a chemical element with symbol Pr and atomic number 59. It is the third member of the lanthanide series and is traditionally considered to be one of the rare-earth metals. Praseodymium is a soft, silvery, malleable and ductile metal, valued for its magnetic, electrical, chemical, and optical properties. It is too reactive to be found in native form, and pure praseodymium metal slowly develops a green oxide coating when exposed to air.

Praseodymium always occurs naturally together with the other rare-earth metals. It is the fourth most common rare-earth element, making up 9.1 parts per million of the Earth's crust, an abundance similar to that of boron. In 1841, Swedish chemist Carl Gustav Mosander extracted a rare-earth oxide residue he called didymium from a residue he called "lanthana", in turn separated from cerium salts. In 1885, the Austrian chemist Baron Carl Auer von Welsbach separated didymium into two elements that gave salts of different colours, which he named praseodymium and neodymium. The name praseodymium comes from the Greek prasinos (πράσινος), meaning "green", and didymos (δίδυμος), "twin".

Like most rare-earth elements, praseodymium most readily forms the +3 oxidation state, which is the only stable state in aqueous solution, although the +4 oxidation state is known in some solid compounds and, uniquely among the lanthanides, the +5 oxidation state is attainable in matrix-isolation conditions. Aqueous praseodymium ions are yellowish-green, and similarly praseodymium results in various shades of yellow-green when incorporated into glasses. Many of praseodymium's industrial uses involve its ability to filter yellow light from light sources.

RaLa Experiment

The RaLa Experiment, or RaLa, was a series of tests during and after the Manhattan Project designed to study the behavior of converging shock waves to achieve the spherical implosion necessary for compression of the plutonium pit of the nuclear weapon. The experiment used significant amounts of a short-lived radioisotope lanthanum-140, a potent source of gamma radiation; the RaLa is a contraction of Radioactive Lanthanum. The method was proposed by Robert Serber and developed by a team led by the Italian experimental physicist Bruno Rossi.

The tests were performed with 1/8 inch (3.2 mm) spheres of radioactive lanthanum, equal to about 100 curies (3.7 TBq) and later 1,000 Ci (37 TBq), located in the center of a simulated nuclear device. The explosive lenses were designed primarily using this series of tests. Some 254 tests were conducted between September 1944 and March 1962. In his history of the Los Alamos project, David Hawkins wrote: “RaLa became the most important single experiment affecting the final bomb design”.


Heavy metal fluoride glasses were accidentally discovered in 1975 by Poulain and Lucas at the University of Rennes in France, including a family of glasses ZBLAN with a composition ZrF4-BaF2-LaF3-AlF3-NaF.

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