yt·​ter·​bi·​um i-ˈtər-bē-əm How to pronounce ytterbium (audio)
: a soft metallic element of the rare-earth group that occurs especially with other rare earth elements in minerals and that has few commercial uses see Chemical Elements Table

Examples of ytterbium in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Much of the work so far uses rubidium and cesium atoms, but the physicist Jeff Thompson at Princeton University prefers encoding the information in the nuclear spin states of metal atoms such as strontium and ytterbium, which have even longer coherence times. Philip Ball, Quanta Magazine, 25 Mar. 2024 The heat-and-pull tapering procedure stretches the spacing between the individual ytterbium ions and effectively turns them into single-photon emitters. IEEE Spectrum, 10 Jan. 2024 The company’s experiments made non-Abelian anyons out of 27 ions of the metal ytterbium, suspended in electromagnetic fields. Sophia Chen, WIRED, 21 Dec. 2023 The group chose to work with a particular strange metal made of ytterbium, rhodium and silicon because Natelson and Si’s longtime collaborator, Silke Bühler-Paschen of the Vienna University of Technology, had worked out how to grow the material in films just dozens of nanometers thick. Quanta Magazine, 28 Nov. 2023 In 2012, for example, physicists captured the first-ever view of an atomic shadow by shining a laser at a single ytterbium atom in a vacuum chamber. Marisa Sloan, Discover Magazine, 30 May 2023 The power-transmission fiber’s loss is 0.74 dB/km, higher than that of the best hollow-core fibers, but attenuation is not the critical factor, and the ytterbium laser operates at around 1.07 micrometers, where loss is higher than at 1.55 micrometers. IEEE Spectrum, 7 June 2022 In these clocks, a laser is shined through a cloud of atoms — usually of strontium or ytterbium. Chelsea Gohd, Discover Magazine, 7 Dec. 2018 The practical choice of materials for solar cells are lanthanides like ytterbium or erbium, which have multiple energy levels for electrons to occupy. IEEE Spectrum, 30 Dec. 2022

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'ytterbium.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


New Latin, from Ytterby, town in southern Sweden

First Known Use

1879, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of ytterbium was in 1879

Dictionary Entries Near ytterbium

Cite this Entry

“Ytterbium.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


yt·​ter·​bi·​um i-ˈtər-bē-əm How to pronounce ytterbium (audio)
: a metallic element that occurs in several minerals see element

Medical Definition


yt·​ter·​bi·​um i-ˈtər-bē-əm How to pronounce ytterbium (audio)
: a bivalent or trivalent metallic element of the rare-earth group that resembles yttrium and occurs with it and related elements in several minerals
symbol Yb
see Chemical Elements Table

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