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About Lithium

Lithium Bohr

As the third element on the periodic table, Lithium is lighter and less dense than all other elements except for helium and hydrogen; it is one of three elements that can float on water (fellow alkali metals sodium and potassium being the other two). Lithium also has the highest specific heat and electrochemical potential of all elements and is the only stable light element that can produce net energy via nuclear fission. In the scope of the alkali metals, lithium possesses some of the common basic properties: it is a soft, silver-white lustrous metal that rapidly oxidizes in air to a gray tarnish and is highly reactive with water, though not as violently as the others due to the proximity of its valence electrons to its nucleus. However, it stands apart from the rest of the alkali metals in that it has the highest melting and boiling points and is the only stable one that reacts with nitrogen. Lithium has excellent thermal and electrical conductivity and has been shown to exhibit superconductivity below 400K and ferromagnetism as a gas. The element is considered both toxic and corrosive and must be handled with extreme care.

Lithium was one of the first three “primordial” elements synthesized in the big bang; though present in stars, it does not occur on earth in its elemental form due to its high reactivity. Natural lithium is composed of two stable isotopes, lithium-6 (7.6%) and lithium-7 (92.4%) with extremely low binding energies; compounds of lithium are present in certain pegmatite minerals such as graphite, and its soluble ions can be found dissolved in seawater, mineral springs, clays, and brines. In 1807, Johan August Arvedson first discovered the element in a sample of petalite (LiAlSi4O10), and thus the element's name derives from lithos, Greek for “stone.” Currently, lithium is extracted via the electrolysis of molten lithium chloride and potassium chloride or lithium aluminum silicate

One of the most well-known uses of lithium is in high-performance, rechargeable lithium-ion batteries that power electric and hybrid vehicles, and electronics, and smartphones. Energy in these batteries is generated by the movement of lithium ions from a negative anode to a positive cathode separated by an electrolyte solution of lithium salts. As opposed to disposable lithium batteries that use pure lithium metal as the cathode material, cathodes in lithium-ion batteries are composed of intercalated lithium-based compounds such as lithium cobalt oxide (LiCoO2), lithium iron phosphate (LFP), lithium manganese oxide (LMO) lithium nickel manganese cobalt oxide (NMC), lithium nickel cobalt aluminum oxide (NCA) and lithium titanate (LTO). Safety concerns about the tendency of the current crop of lithium-ion batteries to catch fire have prompted much research into alternative electrode materials that could not only eliminate the dangers of overheating but also make them more efficient, longer-lasting, and more cost effective. Experimental materials have included tin oxide, silicon nanotubes, stainless steel, tin nanocrystals, vanadium oxide, graphene, carbon nanotubes, iron nitridophosphate, polymer-coated titanium oxide, iron oxide nanoparticlefs, copper foam, lithium molybdenum chromium oxide, lithium borosilicide, and nitrogen-doped carbon-sulfur nanocomposites. Promising lithium-based alternatives to ion batteries are under development such as lithium-sulfur batteries and lithium-air batteries; researchers are also experimenting with materials for next-generation batteries that eliminate lithium entirely such as nickel colbatite, zinc-manganese oxide thin films, and organic polymers.

Lithium has numerous other applications besides battery technologies. The metal’s high specific heat makes it useful in heat transfer applications, heat-resistant glass and ceramics components, and as a strengthening agent in lightweight high-performance aluminum and magnesium alloys. Compounds such as lithium chloride, lithium bromide, lithium hydroxide, and lithium peroxide are hydroscopic absorbent materials used in air purification and industrial desiccation; lithium stearate is an all-purpose, high-temperature lubricant, and other lithium compounds are also a frequent component of soaps, red colorants in fireworks, and metallurgy fluxes for welding and storage. Lithium has been used in military and defense capacities: lithium deuteride drives the reaction of the hydrogen bomb, and lithium hydrides can be used in rocket propellants. In the field of optoelectronics, non-linear crystals like lithium fluoride and lithium niobate are used for UV, visible, and IR applications such as sensors, photonic devices, optical lenses, modulators, and smartphones. lLithium niobate(LiNBO3) is notable for being a ferroelectric material with the lowest refractive index and farthest transmission in the UV range of common materials. Laboratories also employ lithium in biomedical and organic chemistry functions: organolithium reagents are frequently used to synthesize polymers, catalysts, and initiators, and though the element has no inherent biological function in the human body, lithium carbonate the main component of mood-stabilizing pharmaceuticals for the treatment of bipolar disorder. Vaporized lithium is an experimental material for shielding the walls of plasma fusion devices.

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Lithium is alloyed with aluminum and magnesium to form lightweight metals. It is also used in batteries, optical glasses, and in medicine. High Purity (99.999%) Lithium (Li) Sputtering TargetHigh Purity (99.999%) Lithium Oxide (Li2O) PowderLithium stearate is a common high temperature lubricant. Elemental or metallic forms of lithium include pellets, rod, wire and granules for evaporation source material purposes. Lithium oxides are available in powder and dense pellet forms for such uses as optical coating and thin film applications. Oxides tend to be insoluble. Lithium fluoride is another insoluble form for uses in which oxygen is undesirable such as metallurgy, chemical and physical vapor deposition and in some optical coatings. Lithium is available in soluble forms including lithium chloride, lithium nitrate, and lithium acetate. These compounds are also manufactured as solutions at specified stoichiometries.

Lithium Properties

Lithium (Li) atomic and molecular weight, atomic number and elemental symbol

Lithium is a Block S, Group 1, Period 2 element. The number of electrons in each of Lithium's shells is 2, 1 and its electronic configuration is [He] 2s1. The lithium atom has a radius of and its Van der Waals radius is In its elemental form, CAS 7439-93-2, lithium has a silvery white appearance.Lithium Bohr Model Lithium is a member of the alkali group of metals. It has the highest specific heat and electrochemical potential of any material, making it important in applications involving heat transfer and as the anode in batteries. Elemental Lithium Because of its high reactivity, Lithium does not occur naturally in elemental form. Lithium was first discovered by Johann Arvedson in 1807. The origin of the name Lithium comes from the Greek word lithose which means "stone". Lithium information, including technical data, safety data, high purity properties, research, applications and other useful facts are discussed below. Scientific facts such as the atomic structure, ionization energy, abundance on earth, conductivity and thermal properties are also included.

Symbol: Li
Atomic Number: 3
Atomic Weight: 6.94
Element Category: alkali metal
Group, Period, Block: 1, 2, s
Color: silvery white/gray
Other Names: N/A
Melting Point: 180.54 °C, 356.97 °F, 453.69 K
Boiling Point: 1342 °C, 2448 °F, 1615 K
Density: 0.534 g·cm-3
Liquid Density @ Melting Point: 0.512 g·cm-3
Density @ 20°C: 0.53 g·/cm-3
Density of Solid: 535 kg·m-3
Specific Heat: 3.56 (at 25 °C in J/g°C)
Superconductivity Temperature: N/A
Triple Point: N/A
Critical Point: (extrapolated)
3220 K, 67 Mpa
Heat of Fusion (kJ·mol-1): 4.6
Heat of Vaporization (kJ·mol-1): 147.7
Heat of Atomization (kJ·mol-1): 157.8
Thermal Conductivity: 84.8 W·m-1·K-1
Thermal Expansion: (25 °C) 46 µm·m-1·K-1
Electrical Resistivity: (20 °C) 92.8 nΩ·m
Tensile Strength: N/A
Molar Heat Capacity: 24.860 J·mol-1·K-1
Young's Modulus: 4.9 GPa
Shear Modulus: 4.2 GPa
Bulk Modulus: 11 GPa
Poisson Ratio: N/A
Mohs Hardness: 0.6
Vickers Hardness: N/A
Brinell Hardness: N/A
Speed of Sound: (20 °C) 6000 m·s-1
Pauling Electronegativity: 0.98
Sanderson Electronegativity: 0.89
Allred Rochow Electronegativity: 0.97
Mulliken-Jaffe Electronegativity: 0.97 (s orbital)
Allen Electronegativity: 0.912
Pauling Electropositivity: 3.02
Reflectivity (%): N/A
Refractive Index: N/A
Electrons: 3
Protons: 3
Neutrons: 4
Electron Configuration: [He] 2s1
Atomic Radius: 152 pm
Atomic Radius,
non-bonded (Å):
Covalent Radius: 128±7 pm
Covalent Radius (Å): 1.3
Van der Waals Radius: 182 pm
Oxidation States: +1 (strongly basic oxide)
Phase: Solid
Crystal Structure: body-centered cubic
Magnetic Ordering: paramagnetic
Electron Affinity (kJ·mol-1) 59.612
1st Ionization Energy: 520.23 kJ·mol-1
2nd Ionization Energy: 7298.22 kJ·mol-1
3rd Ionization Energy: 11815.13 kJ·mol-1
CAS Number: 7439-93-2
EC Number: 231-102-5
MDL Number: MFCD00134051
Beilstein Number: N/A
SMILES Identifier: [Li]
InChI Identifier: InChI=1S/Li
PubChem CID: 3028194
ChemSpider ID: 2293625
Earth - Total: 1.85 ppm 
Mercury - Total: 0.87 ppm
Venus - Total: 1.94 ppm
Earth - Seawater (Oceans), ppb by weight: 180
Earth - Seawater (Oceans), ppb by atoms: 160
Earth -  Crust (Crustal Rocks), ppb by weight: 17000
Earth -  Crust (Crustal Rocks), ppb by atoms: 50000
Sun - Total, ppb by weight: 0.06
Sun - Total, ppb by atoms: 0.01
Stream, ppb by weight: 3000
Stream, ppb by atoms: 430
Meterorite (Carbonaceous), ppb by weight: 1700
Meterorite (Carbonaceous), ppb by atoms: 4600
Typical Human Body, ppb by weight: 30
Typical Human Body, ppb by atom: 27
Universe, ppb by weight: 6
Universe, ppb by atom: 1
Discovered By: Johan August Arfwedson
Discovery Date: 1817
First Isolation: William Thomas Brande(1821)

Health, Safety & Transportation Information for Lithium

Lithium is both toxic and corrosive. Safety data for Lithium and its compounds can vary widely depending on the form. For potential hazard information, toxicity, and road, sea and air transportation limitations, such as DOT Hazard Class, DOT Number, EU Number, NFPA Health rating and RTECS Class, please see the specific material or compound referenced in the Products tab. The below information is for elemental (metallic) lithium.

Safety Data
Material Safety Data Sheet MSDS
Signal Word Danger
Hazard Statements H260-H314
Hazard Codes F,C
Risk Codes 14/15-34
Safety Precautions 8-43-45
RTECS Number OJ5540000
Transport Information UN 1415 4.3/PG 1
WGK Germany 2
Globally Harmonized System of
Classification and Labelling (GHS)
Corrosion-Corrosive to metals Flame-Flammables

Lithium Isotopes

Lithium (L) has two stable isotopes, lithium-6 and lithium-7. Of the two, Lithium-7 is more common making up about 92.5% of lithium atoms.

Nuclide Isotopic Mass Half-Life Mode of Decay Nuclear Spin Magnetic Moment Binding Energy (MeV) Natural Abundance
(% by atom)
3Li 3.030775 N/A Unknown N/A N/A N/A -
4Li 4.02719(23) 91(9)×10-24 s [6.3 ] p to 3He 2- N/A 3.7 -
5Li 5.01254(5) 370(30)×10-24 s [~1.5 ] p to 4He 3/2- N/A 25.38 -
6Li 6.015122795(16) STABLE - 1+ 0.8220467 31.04 7.59
7Li 7.01600455(8) STABLE - 3/2- 3.256424 38.28 92.41
8Li 8.022487359(10) 840.3(9) ms β- to 8Be; β- + 2α to 2+ 1.6536 40.39 -
9Li 9.026789499(21) 178.3(4) ms β- to 9Be; β- + n to 8Be; β-+ n + 2α to 3/2- 3.439 44.47 -
10Li 10.035481(16) 2x10-21 y n to 9Li (1-,2-) N/A 44.81 -
11Li 11.043798(21) 8.75(14) ms β- to 11Be; β- + n to 10Be; β- + n + α to 6He 3/2- 3.668 45.44 -
12Li 12.053779(107)# <10 ns n to 11Li N/A N/A 44.2 -
Lithium Elemental Symbol (Li)

Recent Research & Development for Lithium

  • Encapsulation of S/SWNT with PANI Web for Enhanced Rate and Cycle Performance in Lithium Sulfur Batteries. Kim JH, Fu K, Choi J, Kil K, Kim J, Han X, Hu L, Paik U. Sci Rep. 2015 Mar 10
  • Role of Mn Content on the Electrochemical Properties of Nickel-rich Layered LiNi0.8-xCo0.1Mn0.1+xO2 (0.0 ≤ x ≤ 0.08) Cathodes for Lithium-ion Batteries. Zheng J, Kan WH, Manthiram A. ACS Appl Mater Interfaces. 2015 Mar 10.
  • Non-fatal Lithium Intoxication with 5.5 mmol/L Serum Level. Haussmann R, Bauer M, von Bonin S, Lewitzka U. Pharmacopsychiatry. 2015 Mar 12.
  • Intrathyroid parathyroid adenoma in a patient with chronic lithium treatment. Payá Llorente C, Martínez García R, Sospedra Ferrer JR, Durán Bermejo MI, Armañanzas Villena E. Cir Esp. 2015 Mar 5.
  • Assessment of the Internal Fit of Lithium Disilicate Crowns Using Micro-CT. Alfaro DP, Ruse ND, Carvalho RM, Wyatt CC. J Prosthodont. 2015 Mar 5.
  • Solvated Graphene Frameworks as High-Performance Anodes for Lithium-Ion Batteries. Xu Y, Lin Z, Zhong X, Papandrea B, Huang Y, Duan X. Angew Chem Int Ed Engl. 2015 Mar 10.
  • Improved Hole-Transporting Property via HAT-CN for Perovskite Solar Cells without Lithium Salts. Ma Y, Chung YH, Zheng L, Zhang D, Yu X, Xiao L, Chen Z, Wang S, Qu B, Gong Q, Zou D. ACS Appl Mater Interfaces. 2015 Mar 11.
  • Nanotubular structured Si-based multicomponent anodes for high-performance lithium-ion batteries with controllable pore size via coaxial electro-spinning. Ryu J, Choi S, Bok T, Park S. Nanoscale. 2015 Mar 16.
  • Superior cycle performance and high reversible capacity of SnO2/graphene composite as an anode material for lithium-ion batteries. Liu L, An M, Yang P, Zhang J. Sci Rep. 2015 Mar 12
  • Covalent Attachment of Anderson-Type Polyoxometalates to Single-Walled Carbon Nanotubes Gives Enhanced Performance Electrodes for Lithium Ion Batteries. Ji Y, Hu J, Huang L, Chen W, Streb C, Song YF. Chemistry. 2015 Mar 12.
  • One step synthesis of Si@C nanoparticles by laser pyrolysis: high capacity anode material for lithium ion batteries. Sourice J, Quinsac A, Leconte Y, Sublemontier O, Porcher W, Haon C, Bordes A, De Vito E, Boulineau A, Jouanneau Si Larbi S, Herlin-Boime N, Reynaud C. ACS Appl Mater Interfaces. 2015 Mar 11.
  • Molecular effects of lithium are partially mimicked by inositol-monophosphatase (IMPA)1 knockout mice in a brain region-dependent manner. O D, Y S, L T, Y B, R H B, G A, A N A. Eur Neuropsychopharmacol. 2014 Aug 7.
  • Energy transfer based emission analysis of (Tb3+, Sm3+): Lithium zinc phosphate glasses. Parthasaradhi Reddy C, Naresh V, Ramaraghavulu R, Rudramadevi BH, Ramakrishna Reddy KT, Buddhudu S. Spectrochim Acta A Mol Biomol Spectrosc. 2015 Feb 26
  • A Si-MnOOH composite with superior lithium storage properties. Zhong H, Yang Y, Ding F, Wang D, Zhou Y, Zhan H. Chem Commun (Camb). 2015 Mar 9.
  • A New Method for Quantitative Marking of Deposited Lithium by Chemical Treatment on Graphite Anodes in Lithium-Ion Cells. Krämer Y, Birkenmaier C, Feinauer J, Hintennach A, Bender CL, Meiler M, Schmidt V, Dinnebier RE, Schleid T. Chemistry. 2015 Mar 12.
  • Lithium, Vanadium and Chromium Uptake Ability of Brassica juncea from Lithium Mine Tailings. Elektorowicz M, Keropian Z. Int J Phytoremediation. 2015
  • Microshear Bond Strength of Resin Cements to Lithium Disilicate Substrates as a Function of Surface Preparation. Lise D, Perdigão J, Van Ende A, Zidan O, Lopes G. Oper Dent. 2015 Mar 6.
  • Lithium-cyclo-difluoromethane-1,1-bis(sulfonyl)imide as a stabilizing electrolyte additive for improved high voltage applications in lithium-ion batteries. Murmann P, Streipert B, Kloepsch R, Ignatiev N, Sartori P, Winter M, Cekic-Laskovic I. Phys Chem Chem Phys. 2015 Mar 11.
  • Exhibition of the Brønsted acid-base character of a Schiff base in palladium(ii) complex formation: lithium complexation, fluxional properties and catalysis of Suzuki reactions in water. Kumar R, Mani G. Dalton Trans. 2015 Mar 16.
  • Core-Shell Ti@Si Coaxial Nanorod Arrays Formed Directly on Current Collectors for Lithium-Ion Batteries. Meng X, Deng D. ACS Appl Mater Interfaces. 2015 Mar 6.