Lanthanum (La)

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Lanthanum 57La138.905

Discovered in 1839 by C.G. Mosander at Stockholm, Schweden.

[Greek, lanthanein = to lie hidden]

French: lanthane
German: Lanthan
Italian: lantanio
Spanish: lantano

Description: Lanthanum is a soft, silvery-white metal that rapidly tarnishes in air and burns easily if ignited. It reacts with water to give hydrogen gas. Lanthanum is used in optical glass and for flints. Lantahnum (III) salts are used as biological tracers for calcium.


Further Materials properties


Crystal structure:

(cell dimensions/pm), space group, 
α-La hexagonal (a=377.0, c=121.59), P63/mmc
β-La f.c.c. (a=529.6), Fm3M
γ-La b.c.c. (a=426), Im3m
T (α -> β) = 583 K; T (β -> γ) = 1137K

X-ray diffractions mass absorption coefficients: CuKa 341 (µ/r) / cm2g-1
MoKa 45.8 (µ/r) / cm2g-1
Neutron scattering length: 0.824 b/10-12 cm
Thermal neutron capture cross-section: 8.98 sa / barns
Density: 6145 kg/m-3 [298 K]
Melting point: 920.85°C / 1194°K
Boiling point: 3456.85°C / 3730°K
Molar volume: 22.60 cm3
Thermal conductivity: 13.5 [300 K] W m-1K-1
Coefficient of linear thermal expansion: 4.9 x 10-6 K-1
Electrical resistivity: 57 x 10-8 [298 K] Ωm
Mass magnetic susceptibility: +1.1 x 10-8(s) kg-1m3
Radi: La3+ 122; atomic 188; covalent 169
Electronegativity: 1.10 (Pauling); 1.08 (Allred); 3.1 eV (absolute)
Effective nuclear charge: 2.85 (Slater); 9.31 (Clementi); 10.43 (Froese-Fischer)
Number of Isotopes (incl. nuclear isomers): 26
Isotope mass range: 125-> 149



Biological data


Biological role: None.
Toxic intake: n.a.
Lethal intake: LD50 (chlorine, oral, rat) = 4200 mg Kg-1
Hazards: Lanthanum is mildly toxic by ingestion, and causes liver injury
Level in humans
Blood: n.a. mg dm-3
Bone: < 0.08 ppm
Liver: 0.3 ppm
Muscle: 0.0004 ppm
Daily dietary intake: n.a. but very low
Total mass of element in average
[70 kg] person:
c. 0.8 mg


Geological data


Minerals:Minerals are very rare. Iodine cycles through the environment, and rain water contains about 0.7 p.p.b.
MineralFormulaDensityHardnessCrystal apperance
Allanite  Ca(Ce,La)(Al,Fe)3(SiO4)3OH 4.0  5.5 - 6.0  mon., sub-met. black
Bastnäsite-La*  (La,Ce,etc.)CO3(F,OH) n.a.  n.a.  hex.
Cerite  (Ce,La,Ca)9(Mg,Fe)Si7(O,OH,F)28 4.75  5  rhom., res. black
Monazite-La  (La, Ce, Nd, Th, etc.)PO4 5.20  5 - 5.5  mon., waxy/vit. yellow-brown

* Varieties of these minerals that are particularly rich in lanthanum.

Chief ores: monazite, bastnäsite
World production: 12 500 tonnes/year
Producing areas: USA, Brazil, India, Sri Lanka, Australia
Reserves: c. 6 x 106 tonnes
Specimen: available as chips, ingots or powder. Care!


Sun: 13.5 (relative to H = 1 x 1012)
Earth's crust: 32 ppm
Atlantic surface: 1.8 x 10-6 ppm
Atlantic deep: 3.8 x 10-6  ppm
Pacific surface: 2.6 x 10-6  ppm
Pacific deep: 6.9 x 10-6  ppm
Residence time: 200 years
Classification: recycled
Oxidation state: III

  Source: Emsley, J. (1998) The Elements (3rd Edition)

Other sizes and specifications on request

Overview of elements with access to our shop

1 18
2 13 14 15 16 17
Li Be B C
Na Mg 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 Al Si P S
K Ca Sc Ti V Cr Mn Fe Co Ni Cu Zn Ga Ge As Se
Rb Sr Y Zr Nb Mo
Ru Rh Pd Ag Cd In Sn Sb Te I
Cs Ba La Hf Ta W Re Os Ir Pt Au Hg Tl Pb Bi
Ce Pr Nd
Sm Eu Gd Tb Dy Ho Er Tm Yb Lu

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