Lithium – A highly reactive alkali metal that is soft enough to be cut using a knife – was actually one of the three elements that were produced during Big Bang! Did you know this fact?
There are many such interesting Lithium facts that will blow your mind. In this list of 40 Lithium facts, we are going to find out some interesting information about this amazing metal. You ready?
Before we start…
|Element Family||Alkali Metals|
|Atomic Weight (Atom’s Average Mass)||6.941|
|Melting Point||180.50°C or, 356.90°F or, 453.65 K|
|Boiling Point||1330°C or, 2426°F or, 1603 K|
|Density at 20°C||0.534 grams/cm3|
|Number of Electrons||3|
|Number of Protons||3|
|Number of Neutrons (In the Isotope Found Most Abundantly)||4|
|Most Stable Isotope||6Li and 7Li|
|Element Structure||Body centered-cubic (bcc)|
|Atomic Radius||152 pm (picometer)|
Isotopes of Lithium
|Isotope Name||Type and Abundance||Half-Life|
|3Li||Radioactive||No data available|
|4Li||Radioactive||7.557 * 10-23 s|
|5Li||Radioactive||3.038 * 10-22 s|
|6Li||Stable and 7.59% abundance||No half-life|
|7Li||Stable and 92.41% abundance||No half-life|
|10Li||Radioactive||No data available|
|13Li||Radioactive||No data available|
Lithium Facts: 1-5
1. Lithium stands 3rd in the periodic table with an atomic weight of 6.941 ± 0.002 u. In pure form, Lithium is highly reactive, but it is least reactive when compared to other alkali metals.
2. Lithium’s nucleus is very unstable and because of this, it is almost impossible to find pure Lithium naturally. Natural Lithium can be found as a combination of two stable isotopes which are Lithium-6 and Lithium-7. Of the two, Lithium-7 is abundantly present (92% natural abundance) than Lithium-6. There are nine radioactive isotopes of Lithium.
3. The word “Lithium” originated from the Greek word “lithos” which means stone. It is the lightest known metal known to man. Water is two times denser than Lithium.
4. Lithium is the first member of its group – alkali metals. Other alkali metals are Sodium, Potassium, Rubidium, Caesium and Francium.
5. Its color is silver-white. Though it is a metal, it is so soft that you can literally cut the element using a knife. This metal is one of the few metals which have a very low melting point and very high boiling point.
Lithium Facts: 6-10
6. Did you know that it is tough to find Lithium in a free state? It is present in rocks, mineral springs etc. but not in free state. This is due to the fact that it is extremely unstable and highly reactive.
7. Owing to its high reactivity with almost anything, even water and air, it is stored in oil or in an inert atmosphere.
8. Lithium is the only metal which reacts with Nitrogen naturally. Though it reacts with water, its reaction is least violent with water.
9. Just like Sodium, Lithium actively reacts with water and forms Lithium Hydroxide and Hydrogen, which burns with a crimson red flare.
10. It usually doesn’t react with Oxygen, but given a temperature above 100 degrees Celsius, it forms Lithium Oxide.
Lithium Facts: 11-15
11. It is one of the three elements which were formed during the Big Bang. The other two elements being Hydrogen and Helium.
12. But there is a problem here. The Lithium that was produced in Big Bang must be three times that of the present amount. Scientists are still unable to answer the question, “where did the rest of the Lithium go?”
13. This was discovered in the 1980’s and from then till now it remained as a mystery. This discovery was made based on the data of Big Bang and through observation of stars.
14. According to Pasquale Serpico, a cosmologist working at National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) and at the University of Savoy Mont Blanc situated in France, there are two possible reasons. The first reason being – we are missing on one of the core conditions which the actual Big Bang had. Finding this is a tough task.
15. And, researchers at Laboratory for Underground Nuclear Astrophysics (LUNA) recreated the Big Bang explosion and found that Hydrogen and Helium produced were in line with the actual Big Bang (taken proportionately), but Lithium was produced three times more than expected.
Lithium Facts: 16-20
16. Another possible reason is that there is something mysterious happening in the universe that is eating up most of the Lithium produced.
17. Researchers created the same conditions of the first days of the universe where the energetic photons are released and they lay the foundation for the elementary particles which form atoms. In a study conducted in 2015 in Physical Review Letters (a journal) these researchers saw that there is some loophole.
18. They observed that at a certain level of energy, adding new energetic photons would destroy Beryllium-7 which is a precursor of Lithium-7. The other elements and photons remain the same without any change.
19. So, this may answer the absence of the amount of Lithium to be present in the Universe. As of now, this remains as a mere speculation and studies should be done to prove this. But, this certainly makes a plausible reason while keeping the Big Bang theory intact.
20. The history of its discovery dates back to the 2nd century CE. Soranus, a physician of Ephesus, observed that the waters of his town which were alkaline were used to treat patients with mania and depression. Yes, mania and depression. Later it was seen that those waters had a very high content of Lithium.
Lithium Facts: 21-25
21. No attempts were made to separate this element from others and study it after it was first identified in the 2nd century CE. Long after, Jozé Bonifácio de Andralda e Silva, a Brazilian, in 1790’s, discovered Lithium in a mineral petalite LiAlSi4O10 on a Sweden’s island. He saw that when this ore burned, it gave a crimson red flame.
22. Johan August Arfvedson of Stockholm observed and called this meta – unknown to man – as Lithium in 1817. He understood that it is a lighter version of Sodium, but failed to separate it by using electrolysis. He could only isolate one of the salts of Lithium.
23. In 1821, Willliam Brande got some Lithium by the process of electrolysis but it was so less in quantity that he couldn’t experiment.
24. It was in 1855 that Augustus Matthiessen of Britain and Robert Bunsen of Germany came together and isolated Lithium for the first time by electrolysing Lithium Chloride.
25. Lithium was converted into helium by a process called Transmutation in 1932. This was the first nuclear reaction made by man.
Lithium Facts: 26-30
26. It is used in different alloys which are light but strong and used in the aerospace field, and when you add it (Lithium Carbonate) to molten glass, it makes the glass lighter and stronger! Pyrex cookware and our television tubes use Lithium Carbonate.
27. Did you know that lithium is present in every organism’s body? Yes, it is present, but till now scientists don’t know the purpose it serves in the body.
28. Our cell phones live on this element. Yes, the batteries of our beloved phones are made of Lithium ions.
29. It helps in killing algae and absorbs carbon dioxide in space vehicles. Just add little Lithium in concrete and you see it hardening faster than the normal concrete would take.
30. Lithium Stearate, if mixed with oil, it becomes a powerful lubricant where the oil can be used for any purpose and at high temperatures as well. It doesn’t get hard when cooled and it doesn’t react with Oxygen in air or water.
Lithium Facts: 31-35
31. This grease is used in a number of areas like automobiles, military, aircraft, marine, industrial areas etc.
32. Lithium Hydride is used to inflate boats and Lithium deuteride is used in explosives as an explosive agent (in Hydrogen bombs).
33. Lithium Carbonate is also used in reducing the temperature when manufacturing Aluminium. This reduces the cost of manufacturing Aluminium.
34. Lithium Stearate is used in cosmetics as well, as an additive.
35. In 1949, John Cade discovered yet another use of Lithium (Lithium Carbonate in particular). It is seen that it can be used to reduce the effects of bipolar disorder. Bipolar disorder is a disorder where the person experiences extreme mood swings, sometimes manic and sometimes depression engulfs them.
Lithium Facts: 36-40
36. According to researchers and studies done in 2008, lithium intervenes the receptor’s activity for dopamine. Remember dopamine, the love hormone?
37. According to a 2011 study, it increases the brain’s volume as well. But till now we don’t have a clue how lithium does all this to us!
38. However, too much is too bad. If taken more than the said dose, you would likely experience dizziness, diarrhoea, weight gain, dry mouth etc.
39. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, lithium drugs were the first drugs to get a green signal by the Food and Drug Administration for treating bipolar.
40. Lithium also is seen to reduce suicides! People who drink water which has naturally occurring lithium in it show lower suicide rates than others. Having said this, it is not good to use for a longer period of time and especially pregnant women because lithium can show unidentified effects on the fetus.