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Lanthanoids vs. Actinoids — What's the Difference?

By Tayyaba Rehman — Published on November 27, 2023
Lanthanoids are 15 metallic chemical elements with atomic numbers 57 through 71, while actinoids, also metallic, span atomic numbers 89 through 103, often characterized by their higher radioactivity.
Lanthanoids vs. Actinoids — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Lanthanoids and Actinoids

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Key Differences

Lanthanoids, sometimes also termed lanthanides, showcase a series of 15 f-block elements starting with lanthanum (atomic number 57) and ending with lutetium (atomic number 71). Actinoids, alternatively spelled actinides, span a series of 15 elements too, commencing with actinium (atomic number 89) and concluding with lawrencium (atomic number 103). Both share the distinction of housing their valence electrons in f-orbitals, yet distinguish themselves by their position on the periodic table and ensuing chemical and physical properties.
Tayyaba Rehman
Nov 27, 2023
The lanthanoids, known for their high ductility and malleability, exhibit metallic properties that make them useful in various industries, like the manufacturing of strong permanent magnets. The actinoids, notably denser and prominently more radioactive, demonstrate a dissimilarity, being extensively utilized in nuclear reactors due to their ability to sustain a nuclear fission chain reaction. The presence of f-electrons and ensuing magnetic characteristics further differentiate lanthanoids and actinoids in terms of their technological applications.
Tayyaba Rehman
Nov 27, 2023
Embarking into the sphere of oxidation states, lanthanoids predominantly showcase a +3 oxidation state, with a few exceptions that can also exhibit +2 or +4 states. In stark contrast, actinoids display a larger variety of oxidation states, ranging from +3 to +7, attributed to their 5f, 6d, and 7s electrons participating in bonding. This differential oxidation behavior underscores a pivotal variation between lanthanoids and actinoids in their chemical interactions and stability.
Tayyaba Rehman
Nov 27, 2023
Lanthanoids, often found in nature and commonly extracted from minerals like monazite and bastnasite, are relatively stable and can be isolated for use in various applications. Actinoids, displaying significant radioactivity, are often artificially synthesized, with only thorium and uranium being abundant in nature. This fundamental difference concerning their natural availability and synthetic production further punctuates the disparity in the practical and safety aspects related to lanthanoids and actinoids.
Tayyaba Rehman
Nov 27, 2023
Concerning their applications in medicine and technology, lanthanoids, exemplified by gadolinium, find utility in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) due to their notable magnetic properties. Actinoids, symbolized by plutonium and uranium, are primarily harnessed for their radioactive attributes in nuclear reactors and weapons. Consequently, lanthanoids and actinoids, with their discrete attributes, navigate divergent trajectories in technological, medicinal, and military applications.
Tayyaba Rehman
Nov 27, 2023
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Comparison Chart

Atomic Numbers

57 through 71
89 through 103
Tayyaba Rehman
Nov 27, 2023

Common Oxidation State

+3
Vary from +3 to +7
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Nov 27, 2023

Abundance

Found in nature
Mostly synthetic
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Nov 27, 2023

Radioactivity

Generally low
Typically high
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Nov 27, 2023

Typical Use

Magnets, catalysts, lighting
Nuclear fuel, radiography
Tayyaba Rehman
Nov 27, 2023

Compare with Definitions

Lanthanoids

+3 Oxidation State
Lanthanoids generally exhibit a +3 oxidation state, influencing their chemical stability.
Tayyaba Rehman
Oct 11, 2023

Actinoids

Highly Radioactive
Actinoids, like uranium, are highly radioactive, fueling nuclear reactors.
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Oct 11, 2023

Lanthanoids

F-Block Elements
Lanthanoids reside in the f-block of the periodic table, contributing to electronic industries.
Tayyaba Rehman
Oct 11, 2023

Actinoids

Variable Oxidation States
Actinoids showcase a range of oxidation states, impacting their chemical reactivity.
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Oct 11, 2023

Lanthanoids

Metallic Elements
Lanthanoids, such as neodymium, are used in manufacturing powerful magnets.
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Oct 11, 2023

Actinoids

Used in Nuclear Reactions
Actinoids, notably plutonium, are key elements in sustaining nuclear fission.
Tayyaba Rehman
Oct 11, 2023

Lanthanoids

Magnetic Properties
Lanthanoids are harnessed for their magnetic properties in medical imaging technologies.
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Oct 11, 2023

Actinoids

Includes Synthetic Elements
Many actinoids, like nobelium, are synthetic and not found naturally.
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Oct 11, 2023

Lanthanoids

Natural Abundance
Lanthanoids like lanthanum are relatively abundant and utilized in catalysis.
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Oct 11, 2023

Actinoids

Dense Metallic Elements
Actinoids exhibit high densities, leading to applications in radiation shielding.
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Oct 11, 2023

Lanthanoids

See lanthanide.
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Oct 06, 2023

Actinoids

Plural of actinoid
Tayyaba Rehman
Oct 06, 2023

Lanthanoids

Plural of lanthanoid
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Oct 06, 2023

Common Curiosities

What characterizes actinoids?

Actinoids are 15 metallic elements, atomic numbers 89-103, notable for their radioactivity and use in nuclear technology.
Tayyaba Rehman
Nov 27, 2023

Can actinoids fuel nuclear reactors?

Yes, actinoids like uranium and plutonium are pivotal in nuclear reactors.
Tayyaba Rehman
Nov 27, 2023

Why are actinoids often synthesized?

Actinoids are often synthesized due to their high radioactivity and instability.
Tayyaba Rehman
Nov 27, 2023

Is uranium a lanthanoid?

No, uranium, with atomic number 92, is an actinoid.
Tayyaba Rehman
Nov 27, 2023

Do lanthanoids have varied oxidation states?

Lanthanoids primarily exhibit a +3 oxidation state, with few variations.
Tayyaba Rehman
Nov 27, 2023

Is neodymium a part of the actinoid series?

No, neodymium, atomic number 60, is a lanthanoid.
Tayyaba Rehman
Nov 27, 2023

Which series is utilized in magnet manufacturing?

The lanthanoid series is commonly used in magnet manufacturing.
Tayyaba Rehman
Nov 27, 2023

Are actinoids used in medical imaging?

Actinoids are typically not used in medical imaging, which contrasts with some lanthanoids.
Tayyaba Rehman
Nov 27, 2023

What are lanthanoids?

Lanthanoids are 15 metallic elements with atomic numbers 57-71, commonly used in technology and industry.
Tayyaba Rehman
Nov 27, 2023

Are actinoids naturally abundant?

Mostly not, with the exception of uranium and thorium, actinoids are often scarce or synthetic.
Tayyaba Rehman
Nov 27, 2023

What is a notable use of lanthanoids in medicine?

Lanthanoids like gadolinium are used in MRI due to their magnetic properties.
Tayyaba Rehman
Nov 27, 2023

Is plutonium a lanthanoid?

No, plutonium, atomic number 94, belongs to the actinoids.
Tayyaba Rehman
Nov 27, 2023

Do lanthanoids exhibit radioactivity?

Lanthanoids generally showcase minimal radioactivity compared to actinoids.
Tayyaba Rehman
Nov 27, 2023

What is a prevalent feature of actinoids?

A prominent feature of actinoids is their high radioactivity and use in nuclear applications.
Tayyaba Rehman
Nov 27, 2023

Can lanthanoids sustain a nuclear chain reaction?

Lanthanoids generally do not sustain nuclear chain reactions, a characteristic of some actinoids.
Tayyaba Rehman
Nov 27, 2023

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Tayyaba Rehman
Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to askdifference.com. As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.

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