Yttria is widely used to make Eu:YVO4 and Eu:Y2O3phosphors that give the red color in color TV picture tubes.
Y2O3 is a prospective solid-state laser material. In particular, lasers with ytterbium as dopant allow the efficient operation both in continuous operation
and in pulsed regimes.
At high concentration of excitations (of order of 1%) and poor cooling, the quenching of emission at laser frequency and avalanche broadband emission takes place. (Yttria-based lasers are not to be confused with YAG lasers using yttrium aluminum garnet, a widely used crystal host for rare earth laser dopants).
The original use of the mineral yttria and the purpose of its extraction from mineral sources was as part of the process of making gas mantles and other products for turning the flames of artificially-produced gases (initially hydrogen, later coal gas, paraffin, or other products) into human-visible light. This use is almost obsolete - thorium and cerium oxides are larger components of such products these days.
Yttrium oxide is used to stabilize the Zirconia in late-generation porcelain-free metal-free dental ceramics. This is a very hard ceramic used as a strong base material in some full ceramic restorations. The zirconia used in dentistry is zirconium oxide which has been stabilized with the addition of yttrium oxide. The full name of zirconia used in dentistry is "yttria-stabilized zirconia" or YSZ.
Yttrium oxide is an important starting point for inorganic compounds. For organometallic chemistry it is converted to YCl3 in a reaction with concentrated hydrochloric acid and ammonium chloride.
Yttriaite-(Y), approved as a new mineral species in 2010, is the natural form of yttria. It is exceedingly rare, occurring as inclusions in native tungsten particles in a placer deposit of the Bol’shaja Pol’ja (Russian: Большая Полья) river, Prepolar Ural, Siberia. As a chemical component of other minerals, the oxide yttria was first isolated in 1789 by Johan Gadolin, from rare-earth minerals in a mine at the Swedish town of Ytterby, near Stockholm.