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Lanthanum(III) oxide

Lanthanum(III) oxide
IUPAC name Lanthanum(III) oxide
Other names Lanthanum sesquioxide
CAS number 1312-81-8
RTECS number OE5330000
Molecular formula La2O3
Molar mass 325.81 g/mol
Appearance White powder, hygroscopic.
Density 6.51 g/cm3, solid.
Melting point

2315°C (2590 K)

Boiling point

4200°C (4500 K)

Solubility in water Insoluble
Crystal structure Hexagonal and cubic
Monocapped octahedral
MSDS External MSDS
MSDS External MSDS
Main hazards Irritant
NFPA 704
R-phrases R36/37
S-phrases S26, S22, S37/39
Flash point Non-flammable
Related Compounds
Related compounds Scandium(III) oxide,
Yttrium oxide,
Lanthanum aluminum oxide,
Supplementary data page
Structure and
n, εr, etc.
Phase behaviour
Solid, liquid, gas
Spectral data UV, IR, NMR, MS
Except where noted otherwise, data are given for
materials in their standard state
(at 25 °C, 100 kPa)

Infobox disclaimer and references

Lanthanum(III) oxide is La2O3, a chemical compound containing the rare earth element lanthanum and oxygen. It is used to develop ferroelelectric material, and in optical materials. Production is on laboratory scale, mostly.



La2O3 has largest band gap of the rare earth oxides at 4.3 eV, while also having the lowest lattice energy, with very high dielectric constant, ε = 27 pF/m. La2O3 is widely used in industry as well as in the research laboratory. Lanthanum oxide is an amorphous, odorless, white solid that is insoluble in water, but soluble in dilute acid. Depending on the pH of the compound, different crystal structures can be obtained. Lanthanum oxide has p-type semi-conducting properties because its resistivity decreases with an increase in temperature, average room temperature resistivity is 103 Ω cm.


At low temperatures, La2O3 has an A-M2O3 hexagonal crystal structure. The La3+ metal atoms are surrounded by a 7 coordinate group of O2-atoms, the oxygen ions are in an octahedral shape around the metal atom and there is one oxygen ion above one of the octahedral faces (Wells 546). On the other hand, at high temperatures the Lanthanum oxide converts to a C-M2O3 cubic crystal structure. The La3+ ion is surrounded by a 6 coordinate group of O2- ions.


Different crystalline forms of lanthanum oxide have been prepared.

To produce hexagonal La2O3, a 0.1 M solution of LaCl3 is sprayed onto a preheated substrate, usually made of metal chalcogenides (Kale 3007). The process can be viewed as occurring in two steps - hydrolysis followed by dehydration:

2 LaCl3 + 3 H2O → La(OH)3 + 3 HCl
2 La(OH)3 + heat → La2O3 + 3 H2O

An alternative route to hexagonal La2O3 involves precipitation of nominally La(OH)3 from aqueous solution using a combination of 2.5% NH3 and the surfactant sodium dodecyl sulfate followed by heating and stirring for 24 hours at 80 °C:

2LaCl3+ 3 H2O + 3 NH3 → La(OH)3 + 3 NH4Cl
LaCl3.3H2O → La2O3

Other routes include:

2La2S3 + 3CO2 → 2La2O3 + 3CS2
2La2(SO4)3 + read heat → 2La2O3 + 6SO3


Lanthanum oxide is used to develop ferroelectric materials, such as La-doped Bi4Ti3O12 (BLT). Lanthanum oxide is used in optical materials, often the optical glasses are doped with La2O3 to improve the glass’ refractive index, chemical durability, and mechanical strength.

3B2O3 + La2O3 → 3La2O3•B2O3

When this 1:3 reaction is mixed into a glass composite, the high molecular weight of the lanthanum causes an increase of the homogeneous mixture of the melt which leads to a lower melting point (Vinogradova 1). The addition of the La2O3 to the glass melt leads to a higher glass transition temperature from 658 °C to 679 °C. The addition also leads to a higher density, microhardness, and refractive index of the glass.

Uses & Applications

La2O3 is used to make optical glasses, to which this oxide confers increased density, refractive index, and hardness. Together with oxides of tungsten, tantalum, and thorium, La2O3 improves the resistance of the glass to attack by alkali. La2O3 is an ingredient for the manufacture of devices for piezoelectricity, galvanothermy, and thermoelectricity material. Automobile exhaust-gas converters contain La2O3 (Cao 408). La2O3 is also used in X-Ray imaging intensifying screens, phophors as well as dielectric and conductive ceramics.

La2O3 has been examined for the oxidative coupling of methane (Maoilova 15770).

La2O3 films can be deposited by many different methods, including: chemical vapor disposition, thermal oxidation, sputtering, and spray pyrolysis. Depositions of these films occur in a temperature range of 523–723 K (Kale 3007). Polycrystalline films are formed at 623 K (Kale 3008).


  • Maoilova, O. V. “Surface Acidity and Basicity of La2O3, LaOCl, and LaCl3 Characterized by IR Spectroscopy, TPD, and DFT Calculations.” Journal of Physical Chemistry. 180 (1980):15770-16781.
  • Bedoya, C. “MOCVD of Lanthanum Oxides from La(tmhd)3 and La(tmod)3 Precursors: A Thermal and Kinetic Investigation.” Chemical Vapor Deposition. 12 (2006): 46-53.
  • Vinogradova, L. N. “Glass Transition and Crystallization of Glasses Based on Rare-Earth Borates.” Glass Physics and Chemistry. 30 (2004): 1-5.
  • Kale, S.S. “Characterizations of spray-deposited lanthanum oxide (La2O3) thin films.” Materials Letters. 59 (2005): 3007-3009.
  • Imanaka, Nobuhito. “Preparation of the cubic-type La2O3 phase by thermal decomposition of LaI3.” Journal of Solid State Chemistry. 178 (2005): 395-398.
  • Cao, Jieming. “Controllable syntheses of hexagonal and lamellar mesostructured lanthanum oxide.” Materials Letters. 59 (2005): 408-411.
  • Wyckoff, R. W.G. Crystal Structures: Inorganic Compounds RXn, RnMX2, RnMX3. New York: Interscience Publishers (1963).
  • “Lanthanum oxide.” The Merck Index: An Encyclopedia of Chemicals, Drugs, and Biological. 11th ed. 1989.
  • Veldurthy, B. “Magnesium-Lanthanum Mixed Metal Oxide: A Strong Solid Base for the Michael Addition Reaction.” Adv. Synth. Catal. 347 (2005): 767-771.
  • Wells, A.F. Structural Inorganic Chemistry. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1984.
  • "Lanthanum oxide." Encyclopedia of Chemical Reactions. 1951.
  • R and S data source.


    This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Lanthanum(III)_oxide". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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