HHomeBackground Color:He
LiBeErbium Pictures PageBlack White GrayBCNOFNe
NaMgErbium Technical DataAlSiPSClAr
KCaErbium Isotope DataScTiVCrMnFeCoNiCuZnGaGeAsSeBrKr
RbSrYZrNbMoTcRuRhPdAgCdInSnSbTeIXe
CsBaLaCePrNdPmSmEuGdTbDyHoErTmYbLuHfTaWReOsIrPtAuHgTlPbBiPoAtRn
FrRaAcThPaUNpPuAmCmBkCfEsFmMdNoLrRfDbSgBhHsMtDsRgCnUutUuqUupUuhUusUuo
Erbium     

Erbium

Atomic Weight 167.259
Density 9.066 g/cm3
Melting Point 1497 °C
Boiling Point 2868 °C
Full technical data

Erbium is used to dope fiber optic cables to improve their information carrying capability, which it does by helping to amplify the signal. It can also impart interesting colors to pottery glazes.

Scroll down to see examples of Erbium.
The Elements book Mad Science book Periodic Table Poster  Click here to buy a book, photographic periodic table poster, card deck, or 3D print based on the images you see here!
Erbium Erbium-doped amplifier

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Erbium-doped amplifier.
This is a MOEC High Power laser erbium-doped Waveguide Amplifier. It amplifies light pulses without ever turning them into electricity.
Source: eBay seller healingmass
Contributor: Theodore Gray
Acquired: 17 April, 2009
Text Updated: 17 April, 2009
Price: $3
Size: 4"
Purity: <5%
Erbium Erbium pink glass rod

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Erbium pink glass rod.
Glass rods tinted pink with erbium.
Source: eBay seller irenie1
Contributor: Theodore Gray
Acquired: 16 April, 2009
Text Updated: 17 April, 2009
Price: $2
Size: 0.25"
Purity: <10%
Erbium Torn ingot of erbium

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Torn ingot of erbium.
Description supplied by the source:
This is a chunk of erbium raw material, 3N pure, supplied by the Canadian company HEFA, meaning that this rare earth sample, like most other material used nowadays, actually comes from China. I chose this one because part of the lot/ingot # is visibly stamped on the top surface, which also shows the clamp marks and characteristic broken surfaces of having been mechanically 'torn' (not cut, actually ripped apart)
Source: Ethan Currens
Contributor: Ethan Currens
Acquired: 21 March, 2008
Text Updated: 21 March, 2008
Price: Anonymous
Size: 1.5"
Purity: 99.9%
Erbium Element coin

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Element coin.
Dave Hamric sells element samples under the name Metallium. He's developed a line of coins struck out of various common and uncommon metals: They are quite lovely, and very reasonably priced, considering the difficulty of creating some of them.
Here is the back side of this coin (click either picture to see it larger):

Click the Sample Group link below to see many other coins made of various elements, or click the link to his website above if you want to buy one like this.
Source: Dave Hamric
Contributor: Theodore Gray
Acquired: 30 September, 2007
Text Updated: 30 September, 2007
Price: $15
Size: 0.75"
Purity: >99%
Sample Group: Coins
Erbium Poster sample

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Poster sample.
This is the same sample as the one from the RGB set above, as it appears in my Photographic Periodic Table Poster. The sample photograph includes text exactly as it appears in the poster, which you are encouraged to buy a copy of.
Periodic Table Poster
Source: Max Whitby of RGB
Contributor: Max Whitby of RGB
Acquired: 20 December, 2002
Text Updated: 4 May, 2007
Price: Donated
Size: 0.5"
Purity: 99.4%
Erbium Hollow cathode lamp

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Hollow cathode lamp.
Lamps like this are available for a very wide range of elements: Click the Sample Group link below to get a list of all the elements I have lamps like this for. They are used as light sources for atomic absorption spectrometers, which detect the presence of elements by seeing whether a sample absorbs the very specific wavelengths of light associated with the electronic transitions of the given element. The lamp uses an electric arc to stimulate the element it contains to emit its characteristic wavelengths of light: The same electronic transitions are responsible for emission and absorption, so the wavelengths are the same.
In theory, each different lamp should produce a different color of light characteristic of its element. Unfortunately, the lamps all use neon as a carrier gas: You generally have to have such a carrier gas present to maintain the electric arc. Neon emits a number of very strong orange-red lines that overwhelm the color of the specific element. In a spectrometer this is no problem because you just use a prism or diffraction grating to separate the light into a spectrum, then block out the neon lines. But it does mean that they all look pretty much the same color to the naked eye.
I've listed the price of all the lamps as $20, but that's really just a rough average: I paid varying amounts at various eBay auctions for these lamps, which list for a lot more from an instrument supplier.
(Truth in photography: These lamps all look alike. I have just duplicated a photo of one of them to use for all of them, because they really do look exactly the same regardless of what element is inside. The ones listed are all ones I actually have in the collection.)
Source: eBay seller heruur
Contributor: Theodore Gray
Acquired: 24 December, 2003
Price: $20
Size: 8"
Purity: 99.9%
Sample Group: Atomic Emission Lamps
Erbium Sample from the Everest Set

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Sample from the Everest Set.
Up until the early 1990's a company in Russia sold a periodic table collection with element samples. At some point their American distributor sold off the remaining stock to a man who is now selling them on eBay. The samples (except gases) weigh about 0.25 grams each, and the whole set comes in a very nice wooden box with a printed periodic table in the lid.

To learn more about the set you can visit my page about element collecting for a general description and information about how to buy one, or you can see photographs of all the samples from the set displayed on my website in a periodic table layout or with bigger pictures in numerical order.

Source: Rob Accurso
Contributor: Rob Accurso
Acquired: 7 February, 2003
Text Updated: 29 January, 2009
Price: Donated
Size: 0.2"
Purity: >99%
Erbium Lump

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Lump.
This sample arrived with a full set of lanthanides at a time when I was missing europium, terbium, holmium, ytterbium, and of course lutetium.

This very kind donation from Max Whitby of The Red Green & Blue Company in England completed my element collection, to the extent that it gave me a plausible sample of every element one can plausibly have a sample of. (The Red Green & Blue Company is selling a periodic table collection containing similar samples of the same stuff, and if you want a ready-made collection of elements, that's the first place I would look.)

To learn more about the set you can visit my page about element collecting for a general description or the company's website which includes many photographs and pricing details. I have two photographs of each sample from the set: One taken by me and one from the company. You can see photographs of all the samples displayed in a periodic table format: my pictures or their pictures. Or you can see both side-by-side with bigger pictures in numerical order.

The picture on the left was taken by me. Here is the company's version (there is some variation between sets, so the pictures sometimes show different variations of the samples):


Source: Max Whitby of RGB
Contributor: Max Whitby of RGB
Acquired: 20 December, 2002
Text Updated: 11 August, 2007
Price: Donated
Size: 0.5"
Purity: 99.4%
The Elements book Mad Science book Periodic Table Poster  Click here to buy a book, photographic periodic table poster, card deck, or 3D print based on the images you see here!
Erbium Large rectangle of heavy foil

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Large rectangle of heavy foil.
This fabulous, rather valuable sample of erbium was most graciously donated by George (not 007) Lazenby, who saw the slashdot discussion. I don't know the exact thickness, but it's quite stiff and solid for a foil. A very, very fine specimen.
George got this and the other samples he donated at a surplus auction of his highschool. It seems he was the only one there who appreciated the erbium foil. This sample and the others he sent had been donated to the school by a former student who worked at NIST (National Institute for Standards and Testing), where they had been used as x-ray calibration standards. This means they are probably very pure.
In fact, analysis by x-ray fluorescence spectroscopy at the Center for Microanalysis of Materials, University of Illinois (partially supported by the U.S. Department of Energy under grant DEFG02-91-ER45439) indicates that it is at least 95% erbium, probably quite a bit more than that.
Source: George (not 007) Lazenby
Contributor: George (not 007) Lazenby
Acquired: 9 June, 2002
Price: Donated
Size: 2"
Purity: >95%
Erbium Erbium iodide

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Erbium iodide.
Erbium iodide, very pure, but sadly not mine, just borrowed for photography.
Source: Anonymous
Contributor: Anonymous
Acquired: 17 April, 2009
Text Updated: 17 April, 2009
Price: None
Size: 0.25"
Composition: ErI3
Erbium Himalayan sea salt

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Himalayan sea salt.
There is a list of 84 elements that seems to pop up repeatedly in the ingredient lists of "natural" mineral products, supplements, pills, and the like. Even, it turns out, in salt. Here then is the list of minerals claimed to be found in all-natural organic Himalayan sea salt:
hydrogen, lithium, beryllium, boron, carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, fluoride, sodium, magnesium, aluminum, silicon, phosphorus, sulfur, chloride, calcium, scandium, titanium, vanadium, chromium, manganese, iron, cobalt, nickel, copper, zinc, gallium, germanium, arsenic, selenium, bromine, rubidium, strontium, yttrium, zirconium, niobium, molybdenum, ruthenium, rhodium palladium, silver, cadmium, indium, tin, antimony, tellurium, iodine, cesium, barium, lanthanum, cerium, praseodymium, samarium, europium, gadolinium, terbium, dysprosium, holmium, erbium, thulium, ytterbium, lutetium, hafnium, tantalum, tungsten, rhenium, osmium, iridium, platinum, gold, mercury, thallium, lead, bismuth, polonium, astatine, francium, radium, actinium, thorium, protactinium, uranium, neptunium and plutonium.
I wish someone would tell these people that, for example, neptunium and plutonium do not occur in nature at all, let alone in salt. Unless, I suppose, if you count nuclear fallout as a "natural" source of ingredients.
What bothers me most is what this says about the level of scientific literacy, both of the people selling the stuff, and the people buying it. Does no one actually read the list? Or do they read it an not realize how preposterous it is? It's enough to make you despair for the future of mankind.
Pretty salt, though.
Source: eBay seller saltwonders
Contributor: Theodore Gray
Acquired: 28 March, 2009
Text Updated: 4 April, 2009
Price: $15
Size: 0.25"
Composition: NaClSbCsDyErEuGdHfHoInLaLuNdPrSmScThTlTeTbTmYbY
Erbium Himalayan salt lamp

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Himalayan salt lamp.
A pretty hollow lamp made of solid rock salt from the Himalays. The composition I list is a partial list of the elements claimed to be in this type of salt (see my other Himalayan sea salt sample for a discussion of how silly this is).
Source: eBay seller saltwonders
Contributor: Theodore Gray
Acquired: 28 March, 2009
Text Updated: 3 April, 2009
Price: $29
Size: 8"
Composition: NaClSbCsDyErEuGdHfHoInLaLuNdPrSmScThTlTeTbTmYbY
Erbium Insane mineral capsules

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Insane mineral capsules.
These minerals capsules are called "Immune Boost 77", from Morningstar Minerals. They are either being incredibly honest, or they really don't understand what they're saying when they list what amounts to nearly the entire periodic table on the label, as the "trace minerals" they contain.

Here is the list in all its glory, typed in by my daughter in exchange for my paying for a membership in the Miley Cyrus fan club: Antimony, Barium, Beryllium, Bismuth, Boron, Bromine, Calcium, Carbon, Cerium, Cesium, Chloride, Chromium, Cobalt, Copper, Dysprosium, Erbium, Europium, Florine, Gadolinium, Gallium, Germanium, Gold, Hafnium, Holmium, Indium, Iodine, Iridium, Iron, Lanthanum, Lithium, Lutetium, Magnesium, Manganese, Molybdenum, Neodymium, Niacin, Nickel, Niobium, Osmium, Palladium, Phosphorus, Platinum, Potassium, Praseodymium, Rhenium, Rhodium, Rubidium, Ruthenium, Samarium, Scandium, Selenium, Silicon, Silver, Sodium, Strontium, Sulfur, Tantalum, Thallium, Thorium, Tellurium, Terbium, Thulium, Tin, Titanium, Tungsten, Vanadium, Ytterbium, Yttrium, Zinc, Zirconium.

Some of them are just silly, like thulium, which has absolutely no biological function. Others are a bit scarier, like thallium and thorium that are deadly poisons, and tellurium, which makes you smell of rotten onions for weeks.

Basically what they've done is list everything that occurs in even trace amounts in mixed monazite sand, which is kind of what the stuff inside looks like. The only reason they aren't seriously harmful (I assume) is that most of these are not actually present in any meaningful quantity.

My attention is drawn to these and other similar mineral supplements every time I decide to see if anything interesting has popped up on eBay for one or another of the obscure rare earths. Generally speaking if you search eBay for those guys you get very little of interest unless you turn on the option to search the text of the item description as well as the titles. Then you get lots of trace mineral supplements that one can only hope don't actually contain them.

Source: eBay seller grandma-adams
Contributor: Theodore Gray
Acquired: 24 March, 2009
Text Updated: 29 March, 2009
Price: $15
Size: 0.75"
Composition: SbCsDyErEuGdHfHoInLaLuNdPrSmScThTlTeTbTmYbY
Erbium Photo Card Deck of the Elements

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Photo Card Deck of the Elements.
In late 2006 I published a photo periodic table and it's been selling well enough to encourage me to make new products. This one is a particularly neat one: A complete card deck of the elements with one big five-inch (12.7cm) square card for every element. If you like this site and all the pictures on it, you'll love this card deck. And of course if you're wondering what pays for all the pictures and the internet bandwidth to let you look at them, the answer is people buying my posters and cards decks. Hint hint.
Source: Theodore Gray
Contributor: Theodore Gray
Acquired: 19 November, 2008
Text Updated: 21 November, 2008
Price: $35
Size: 5"
Composition: HHeLiBeBCNOFNeNaMg AlSiPSClArKCaScTiVCrMn FeCoNiCuZnGaGeAsSeBrKr RbSrYZrNbMoTcRuRhPdAg CdInSnSbTeIXeCsBaLaCePr NdPmSmEuGdTbDyHoErTm YbLuHfTaWReOsIrPtAuHgTl PbBiPoAtRnFrRaAcThPaUNp PuAmCmBkCfEsFmMdNoLrRf DbSgBhHsMtDsRgUubUutUuq UupUuhUusUuo
Erbium BiTeEr lump

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BiTeEr lump.
This is a roughly bullet-shaped lump of what is described on the envelope it came in as about half Bi, half Te, and a trace of Er. Actually the exact percentages are given, but in deference to whoever discarded this item I'm not listing them, in case they represent some kind of secret formula for making really good lumps of metal, or something. Ethan seems to have gotten into a batch of strange tellurium compounds someone at his university was throwing away: I'm going to be listing more of them soon.
Reader Anders Mikkelsen suggests that this alloy may have been used in research into Peltier junctions.
Source: Ethan Currens
Contributor: Ethan Currens
Acquired: 18 March, 2007
Text Updated: 28 March, 2009
Price: Donated
Size: 1"
Composition: BiTeEr
The Elements book Mad Science book Periodic Table Poster  Click here to buy a book, photographic periodic table poster, card deck, or 3D print based on the images you see here!