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Electronic Configuration of Lanthanum

Lanthanum, denoted by La, is a chemical element and a rare earth metal present in the Group 3 of the modern periodic table. It is known to be the prototype of the lanthanide series of the elements of the periodic table.

Lanthanum is a malleable and ductile metal, which is silvery-white in colour. It is softer enough that it can be even easily cut through a knife. Lanthanum is known to be the second most reactive rare-earth metals, the first being europium. The lanthanum compound tends to oxidize in the presence of air when kept at a room temperature and forms La₂O₃. It tends to react slowly with water and dissolves faster in the dilute acids, with an exception being the hydrofluoric acid, HF. this is due to the formation of the protective layer of fluoride, LaF₃ on the metal surface.

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What is Lanthanum

Lanthanum is a type of a chemical element denoted by the symbol La. The atomic number of lanthanum is 57. It is ductile and soft silvery-white metal which slowly tarnishes when it is exposed to the air. Lanthanum acts as the eponym of the lanthanide series, which is a group of 15 elements similar to one another starting from lanthanum to lutetium in the modern periodic table. Lanthanum lies first in the group and is hence the prototype. 

Lanthanum is regarded traditionally amongst the rare earth metals. It possesses an oxidation state of +3. The element does not show any biological role when it comes to humans, but it is important to a few bacterial species. It does not prove toxic to humans but possesses antimicrobial activity.

Lanthanum Chemical Formula/Symbol


Lanthanum Atomic Number


Lanthanum Atomic Mass

198.905 g.mol⁻¹ 

Discovered by

Carl Gustav Mosander in 1839

Chemical Properties of Lanthanum



Melting point

920°C or 1688°F or 1193 K



Boiling point

3464°C or 6267°F or 3737 K



Lanthanum Density(g/cm³)


Atomic number


Relative atomic mass


State at 20°C


Key isotopes


Lanthanum Electronic configuration


CAS number


ChemSpider ID


ChemSpider is a type of a free chemical structure database.

Properties of Lanthanum

  1. Lanthanum is found abundantly in the environment.

  2. It is silvery-white in colour

  3. Lanthanum is active, ductile and soft.

  4. Lanthanum tends to oxidize when reacted with water and forms its respective hydroxide.

  5. The lanthanum salts are not soluble in water.

Uses of Lanthanum

  1. Chemical form of lanthanum has its usage in the modern energy-saving lamps, televisions, fluorescent lamps and tubes, etc.

  2. Lanthanum is also used in optics in the form of radiation-absorbing glasses and lenses.

  3. It also increases the malleability and the resistivity of the steel. 

  4. Lanthanum is used to polish glass and to produce catalysts.

  5. It is also used in the petroleum refineries for catalysis.

Health-Related Facts of Lanthanum

  1. The primary problem associated with the lanthanum element is its disposal by the industries. The industrial wastes get dumped directly into the water bodies, mainly from the petroleum industries.

  2. It tends to cause severe damage to both plants and animals and nervous system disorders amongst us humans. 

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. What are the Effects of Lanthanum on Humans?

Lanthanum tends to possess relatively lower to moderate toxicity levels but should be handled with utmost care. When lanthanum solutions are injected, they cause hyperglycemia, hepatic alterations, lower blood pressure and spleen degeneration. Since the La₃⁺ ion is much similar to the Ca₂⁺ ion in their sizes, it is often used in the form of traced substitutes in several medical studies. Like any other lanthanides, lanthanum is also known to have effects on the metabolism of humans, increased risks of coagulation of blood, lowered blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and appetite. When the lanthanum compound is injected to the human brain, it tends to act in the form of a painkiller, which is much similar to opiates and morphine.

2. What is Lanthanum Used for?

The lanthanum metal in specific has no such commercial usages. However, the alloys of lanthanum have a great variety of usage.

  1. The lanthanum and nickel alloy is used in the storage of the hydrogen gas to be used in the hydrogen-powered vehicles. 

  2. Lanthanum is also contained in the anode of the nickel hydride batteries that are used in the hybrid cars.

  3. Lanthanum is also an essential constituent of the mischmetal alloy and it is used in the flints of cigarette lighters. 

  4. The rare-earth compounds that consist of lanthanum are widely used in the applications of carbon-lighting like cinema projection and studio lighting. They tend to help in increasing the brightness and possess emission spectrum which is similar to the natural sunlight.

  5. The salts of lanthanum are used in the catalysts that are used in the petroleum refining.