The periodic table/Lithium

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Lithium was discovered in 1817 by Johann Arfvedson in Stockholm, Sweden. The name is derived from the Greek, 'lithos' meaning stone.

Quick Facts[edit]

Name: Lithium

Symbol: Li

Mass: 6.941

Atomic Number: 3

Electron Configuration: [He]2s1

Classification: alkaline metal

CAS Number: 7439-93-2

Appearance: solid silver coloured metal

Discovery in: 1817

Key Isotopes: 7Li

Density: 0.533 g/L

Crystal Structure: cubic

Melting Point: 180.5 °C

Boiling Point: 1342 °C


Lithium has the highest specific heat capacity of any solid element, and is therefore used in many heat transfer applications. However, it is corrosive and requires special handling. It is used as an alloying agent in the synthesis of organic compounds, and has applications in the nuclear industry. It has a high electrochemical potential so is one of the most widely used battery anode materials. Lithium is also used in special glasses and ceramics. Lithium chloride is one of the most hygroscopic materials known, and is used in air conditioning and industrial drying systems (as is lithium bromide). Lithium stearate is used as an all-purpose and high-temperature lubricant.

Lithium has no known natural biological role. In very small doses it is toxic, but has found a use as lithium carbonate for the treatment for manic depression, although its action on the brain is not fully understood.

Lithium does not occur as the metal in nature, but is found combined in small amounts in nearly all igneous rocks and in the waters of many mineral springs.

Atomic Data[edit]

Atomic radius: 1.820 Å

Covalent radius: 1.3 Å

Electronegativity: 0.980

Electron affinity: 59.612 kJ mol-1

Ionisation energies

First: 520.221 kJ mol-1

Second: 7298.145 kJ mol-1

Third: 11815.034 kJ mol-1

Supply Risk[edit]

Scarcity factor: 5.5 (medium risk)

Crustal abundance: 16 ppm

Reserve base distribution: 49.1%

Production concentration: 58.6%

Top 3 countries for mining:

  1. Bolivia
  2. Chile
  3. China

Top 3 countries for production:

  1. Australia
  2. China
  3. Portugal

Oxidation States and Isotopes[edit]

Common oxidation states: 1


Isotope Atomic mass Abundance (%) Half life Mode of decay
6Li 6.015 7.59
7Li 7.016 92.41

Pressure and Temperature Data[edit]

Molar heat capacity: 24.86 J mol-1 K-1

Vapor pressure: 109 Pa at 1000 K

See Also[edit]