Science, Tech, Math › Science List of Elements in the Lanthanide Series These are the f-block elements Share Flipboard Email Print DAVID MACK / Getty Images Science Chemistry Periodic Table Basics Chemical Laws Molecules Projects & Experiments Scientific Method Biochemistry Physical Chemistry Medical Chemistry Chemistry In Everyday Life Famous Chemists Activities for Kids Abbreviations & Acronyms Biology Physics Geology Astronomy Weather & Climate By Anne Marie Helmenstine, Ph.D. Chemistry Expert Ph.D., Biomedical Sciences, University of Tennessee at Knoxville B.A., Physics and Mathematics, Hastings College Dr. Helmenstine holds a Ph.D. in biomedical sciences and is a science writer, educator, and consultant. She has taught science courses at the high school, college, and graduate levels. our editorial process Facebook Facebook Twitter Twitter Anne Marie Helmenstine, Ph.D. Updated December 12, 2019 The lanthanides or lanthanoid series is a group of transition metals located on the periodic table in the first row (period) below the main body of the table. The lanthanides are commonly referred to as the rare earth elements (REE), although many people group scandium and yttrium together under this label as well. Therefore, it's less confusing to call the lanthanides a subset of the rare earth metals. The Lanthanides Here's a list of the 15 elements that are lanthanides, which run from atomic number 57 (lanthanum, or Ln) and 71 (lutetium, or Lu): Lanthanum: symbol Ln, atomic number 57Cerium: symbol Ce, atomic number 58Praseodymium: symbol Pr, atomic number 59Neodymium: symbol Nd, atomic number 60Promethium: symbol Pm, atomic number 61Samarium: symbol Sm, atomic number 62Europium: symbol Eu, atomic number 63Gadolinium: symbol Gd, atomic number 64Terbium: symbol Tb, atomic number 65Dysprosium: symbol Dy, atomic number 66Holmium: symbol Ho, atomic number 67Erbium: symbol Er, atomic number 68Thulium: symbol Tm, atomic number 69Ytterbium: symbol Yb, atomic number 70Lutetium: symbol Lu, atomic number 71 Note that sometimes lanthanides are considered to be the elements following lanthanum on the periodic table, making it a group of 14 elements. Some references also exclude lutetium from the group because it has a single valence electron in the 5d shell. Properties of the Lanthanides Because the lanthanides are all transition metals, these elements share common characteristics. In pure form, they are bright, metallic, and silvery in appearance. The most common oxidation state for most of these elements is +3, although +2 and +4 are also generally stable. Because they can have a variety of oxidation states, they tend to form brightly colored complexes. Lanthanides are reactive—readily forming ionic compounds with other elements. For instance, lanthanum, cerium, praseodymium, neodymium, and europium react with oxygen to form oxide coatings or tarnish after brief exposure to air. Because of their reactivity, pure lanthanides are stored in an inert atmosphere, such as argon, or kept under mineral oil. Unlike other most other transition metals, the lanthanides tend to be soft, sometimes to the point where they can be cut with a knife. Additionally, none of the elements occurs free in nature. When moving across the periodic table, the radius of the 3+ ion of each successive element decreases; this phenomenon is called lanthanide contraction. With the exception of lutetium, all of the lanthanide elements are f-block elements, referring to the filling of the 4f electron shell. Although lutetium is a d-block element, it's usually considered a lanthanide because it shares so many chemical properties with the other elements in the group. Surprisingly, even though the elements are called rare earth elements, they aren't particularly scarce in nature. However, it's difficult and time-consuming to isolate them from each other from their ores, adding to their value. Lastly, lanthanides are valued for their use in electronics, particularly television and monitor displays. They are also used in lighters, lasers, and superconductors, and to color glass, make materials phosphorescent, and even control nuclear reactions. A Note About Notation The chemical symbol Ln may be used to refer to any lanthanide in general, not specifically the element lanthanum. This may be confusing, especially in situations where lanthanum itself isn't considered a member of the group!