yt·​ter·​bi·​um | \ i-ˈtər-bē-əm How to pronounce ytterbium (audio) \

Definition of ytterbium

: 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 They were first detected in 2016 in experiments with ions of the rare-earth metal ytterbium at the University of Maryland. Tom Metcalfe, NBC News, 15 July 2022 The IonQ processor uses powerful lasers to trap ions from a rare earth metal, ytterbium, and uses these to form its qubits. Jeremy Kahn, Fortune, 22 Sep. 2021 The ytterbium and aluminum clocks were housed in one lab in Boulder, Colorado, and the strontium clock was housed in another lab just under a mile across town, according to NPR. Alex Fox, Smithsonian Magazine, 1 Apr. 2021 Honeywell's president of Quantum Solutions, Tony Uttley, emphasized to Ars that this eliminates manufacturing issues, as every single device has identical properties defined by the atom being used (ytterbium in this case). John Timmer, Ars Technica, 3 Mar. 2020 Monroe’s firm uses another long-standing technology: applying magnetic fields to trap ions of ytterbium whose quantum state is read out using lasers. Elizabeth Gibney, Scientific American, 26 Nov. 2019 Nitrogen is put in diamond, phosphorous in silicon, and ytterbium in yttrium-aluminum-garnet crystals. Chris Lee, Ars Technica, 30 Nov. 2019 Here, the quantum state is not generally stored in a single ytterbium ion. Chris Lee, Ars Technica, 30 Nov. 2019 In one experiment, a group led by Christopher Monroe of the University of Maryland, College Park, created a time crystal in an engineered system of a chain of ytterbium ions. Frank Wilczek, Scientific American, 16 Oct. 2019 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'ytterbium.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of ytterbium

1879, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for ytterbium

New Latin, from Ytterby, town in southern Sweden

Learn More About ytterbium

Time Traveler for ytterbium

Time Traveler

The first known use of ytterbium was in 1879

See more words from the same year

Dictionary Entries Near ytterbium



ytterbium metal

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for ytterbium

Last Updated

23 Jul 2022

Cite this Entry

“Ytterbium.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 9 Aug. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for ytterbium


yt·​ter·​bi·​um | \ i-ˈtər-bē-əm How to pronounce ytterbium (audio) \

Medical Definition of ytterbium

: 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

More from Merriam-Webster on ytterbium Encyclopedia article about ytterbium


Test Your Vocabulary

The Great British Vocabulary Quiz

  • union jack speech bubble
  • Named after Sir Robert Peel, what are British police called?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!