Terbium (Tb) - Discovery, Occurrence, Production, Properties and Applications of Terbium

Topics Covered

Chemical Formula
Basic Information
Health Aspects
Key Properties

Chemical Formula



Carl Gustaf Mosander, a Swedish scientist, discovered terbium in 1843. At the time, Terbium was only available as an impurity in yttria. The pure form of this element was first prepared by Jean-Charles-Galissard de Marignac, a French chemist, in 1886.

Basic Information

Name Terbium
Symbol Tb
Atomic number 65
Atomic weight 158.92535 (2)
Standard state Solid at 298 K
CAS Registry ID 7440-27-9
Group name Lanthanoid
Period in periodic table 6 (lanthanoid)
Block in periodic table f-block
Color Silvery white
Classification Metallic
Melting point 1629 K (1356°C or 2473°F)
Boiling point 3503 K (3230°C or 5846°F)
Density 8.23 g/cm3
Phase at room temperature Solid


Terbium occurs with other Lanthanides in minerals that include euxenite, monazite, gadolinite, xenotime and cerite.

Terbium - Periodic Table of Videos


Terbium has 26 isotopes with terbium-159 being the only isotope that that occurs in nature. These 26 isotopes have mass numbers ranging from 140 to 165.


The production of terbium involves obtaining fractions of different basicity from yttria using ammonium hydroxide. Two substances known as terbia and erbia were obtained from these fractions. Terbia and erbia contain the rare earth elements terbium and erbium.

Terbium is usually obtained in the form of the compound terbium fluoride (TbF3 ) when the standard procedure is used to separate the rare earth elements. Terbium is obtained when electric current passes through the compound terbium fluoride.

Key Properties

The key properties of terbium include:

  • It has a silver-gray luster like other metals
  • It is soft and can be cut using a knife
  • It can be easily drawn into wires and hammered into thin sheets
  • It is reasonably stable in air though slowly oxidized
  • It reacts with cold water
  • It dissolves in acids.


Terbium is useful in the following applications:

  • It is mostly used in phosphors
  • It is used to dope a few varieties of solid-state devices
  • It is used as a as a crystal stabilizer along with zirconium dioxide in fuel cells that function at high temperatures
  • Terbium-149, a radioactive isotope, is used in the field of medicine as the radiation of this isotope does not travel very far and thus does not cause any damage to the healthy cells.




http://www.chemistryexplained.com/elements/C-K/Helium.html http://www.lenntech.com/periodic/elements/he.htm



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G.P. Thomas

Written by

G.P. Thomas

Gary graduated from the University of Manchester with a first-class honours degree in Geochemistry and a Masters in Earth Sciences. After working in the Australian mining industry, Gary decided to hang up his geology boots and turn his hand to writing. When he isn't developing topical and informative content, Gary can usually be found playing his beloved guitar, or watching Aston Villa FC snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.


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