Dictionary > Erbium


Erbium (symbol: Er) is a metallic element associated with several other rare elements in the mineral gadolinite from Ytterby in Sweden (where its name was derived). Its salts are rose-coloured and give characteristic spectra. Its sesquioxide is called erbia. It has an atomic weight of 165.9. In medicine, it is used in optical fiber amplifier-lasers as it has optical fluorescent properties. It is used in laser surgery and in dental laser enamel ablation. Its function in the human body is largely unknown although it is presumed to stimulate metabolism.1


  1. Emsley, John (2001). “Erbium”. Nature’s Building Blocks: An A-Z Guide to the Elements. Oxford, England, UK: Oxford University Press. pp. 136–139.

© Biology Online. Content provided and moderated by Biology Online Editors

You will also like...

Biological Cell Defense
Biological Cell Defense

Organisms employ different strategies to boost its defenses against antigens. Humans have an immune system to combat pat..

Lentic community
Freshwater Communities & Lentic Waters

Lentic or still water communities can vary greatly in appearance -- from a small temporary puddle to a large lake. The s..

Cambial cells
Plant Tissues

Plant organs are comprised of tissues working together for a common function. The different types of plant tissues are m..

Non-Mendelian Inheritance
Non-Mendelian Inheritance

In this tutorial, find out more about certain types of inheritance that does not follow the Mendelian inheritance patter..

An artist depiction of a Precambrian multicellular life form.
The Evolution of Cell Organelles

The nucleus containing the genetic material, DNA, and the mitochondria, well-identified as the "powerhouse of the cell",..

Still freshwater and plants
Still Freshwater & Plants

Plants in lentic habitats have features not found in terrestrial plants. They acquired these features as they adapt to t..