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Another transition metal, Yttrium is chemically similar to the lanthanides and is only found combined with other rare earth metals and uranium ores and is never found as a free element in nature. Despite this, Yttrium is estimated to be the 28th most abundant element in the earth’s crust, about 400 times more abundant than silver.

Yttrium’s primary application is in LED televisions, where yttrium oxide is combined with europium to help produce red pixels. It can also be used for increasing strength of aluminum and magnesium alloys and has been used in superconductors that must be kept at ultra-low temperatures. Yttrium also has applications in the treatment of various cancers such as lymphoma, leukemia, ovarian, pancreatic and bone cancers.

Photo: Heinrich Pniok