<<Thulium is the element with symbol 69
Tm. [Ultima Thule
Tm is the 13th and third-last element in the lanthanide series. Thulium is the second-least abundant of the lanthanides, after radioactively unstable promethium which is only found in trace quantities on Earth. It is an easily workable metal with a bright silvery-gray luster. It is fairly soft and slowly tarnishes in air. Despite its high price and rarity, thulium is used as the radiation source in portable X-ray devices, and in some solid-state lasers. It has no significant biological role and is not particularly toxic.
Thulium was discovered by Swedish chemist Per Teodor Cleve in 1879 by looking for impurities in the oxides of other rare earth elements. Cleve started by removing all of the known contaminants of erbia (Er2O3
). Upon additional processing, he obtained two new substances; one brown and one green. The brown substance was the oxide of the element holmium and was named holmia by Cleve, and the green substance was the oxide of an unknown element. Cleve named the oxide thulia and its element thulium after Thule, an Ancient Greek place name associated with Scandinavia or Iceland. Thulium's atomic symbol was once Tu, but this was changed to Tm.
Thulium was so rare that none of the early workers had enough of it to purify sufficiently to actually see the green color; they had to be content with spectroscopically observing the strengthening of the two characteristic absorption bands, as erbium was progressively removed. The first researcher to obtain nearly pure thulium was Charles James, a British expatriate working on a large scale at New Hampshire College in Durham. In 1911 he reported his results, having used his discovered method of bromate fractional crystallization to do the purification. He famously needed 15,000 purification operations to establish that the material was homogeneous.
Holmium-chromium-thulium triple-doped yttrium aluminum garnet (Ho:Cr:Tm:YAG, or Ho,Cr,Tm:YAG) is an active laser medium material with high efficiency. It lases at 2080 nm and is widely used in military applications, medicine, and meteorology. Single-element thulium-doped YAG (Tm:YAG) lasers operate at 2,01 μm. The wavelength of thulium-based lasers is very efficient for superficial ablation of tissue, with minimal coagulation depth in air or in water. This makes thulium lasers attractive for laser-based surgery.
Despite its high cost, portable X-ray devices use thulium that has been bombarded in a nuclear reactor as a radiation source. These sources have a useful life of about one year, as tools in medical and dental diagnosis, as well as to detect defects in inaccessible mechanical and electronic components. Such sources do not need extensive radiation protection – only a small cup of lead.
Thulium-170 is gaining popularity as an X-ray source for cancer treatment via brachytherapy. This isotope has a half-life of 128.6 days and five major emission lines of comparable intensity (at 7.4, 51.354, 52.389, 59.4 and 84.253 keV). Thulium-170 is one of the four most popular radioisotopes for use in industrial radiography.
Thulium has been used in high-temperature superconductors similarly to yttrium. Thulium potentially has use in ferrites, ceramic magnetic materials that are used in microwave equipment. Thulium is also similar to scandium in that it is used in arc lighting for its unusual spectrum, in this case, its green emission lines, which are not covered by other elements. Because thulium fluoresces with a blue color when exposed to ultraviolet light, thulium is put into euro banknotes as a measure against counterfeiting. The blue fluorescence of Tm-doped calcium sulfate has been used in personal dosimeters for visual monitoring of radiation. Tm-doped halides in which Tm is in its 2+ valence state, are promising luminescent materials that can make efficient electricity generating windows based on the principle of a luminescent solar concentrator, possible.>>