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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 ß- to 8Be; ß- + 2a to 2+ 1.6536 40.39 -
9Li 9.026789499(21) 178.3(4) ms ß- to 9Be; ß- + n to 8Be; ß-+ n + 2a 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 ß- to 11Be; ß- + n to 10Be; ß- + n + a 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

  • lithium niobate ultrasonic transducer design for Enhanced Oil Recovery. 2015 Nov Wang Z, Xu Y, Gu Y. Ultrason Sonochem. 2015 Nov
  • Facile synthesis of SnO2 nanocrystals anchored onto graphene nanosheets as anode materials for lithium-ion batteries. 2015 Jul 17 Zhang Y, Jiang L, Wang C. Phys Chem Chem Phys. 2015 Jul 17
  • Highly Reversible Lithium-ions Storage of Molybdenum Dioxide Nanoplates for High Power Lithium-ion Batteries. 2015 Jul 16 Liu X, Yang J, Hou W, Wang J, Nuli Y. ChemSusChem. 2015 Jul 16
  • Polarization bistability associated with <sup>4</sup>F<sub>3/2</sub>→<sup>4</sup>I<sub>11/2</sub> and <sup>4</sup>F<sub>3/2</sub>→<sup>4</sup>I<sub>13/2</sub> transitions in Nd:YVO<sub>4</sub> laser with intra-cavity periodically poled lithium niobate Bragg modulator. 2015 Jul 13 Hong KG, Lin ST, Wei MD. Opt Express. 2015 Jul 13
  • Superconductivity: Rewriting the Superconductivity in Iron-Based Superconductors by Lithium-Ion Insertion and Extraction (Adv. Mater. 28/2015). 2015 Jul Chen D, Wang X, Chen J, Ren Z, Xue M, Chen G. Adv Mater. 2015 Jul
  • Corrigendum: Excellent Stability of a Lithium-Ion-Conducting Solid Electrolyte upon Reversible Li+ /H+ Exchange in Aqueous Solutions. 2015 Jan 19 Ma C, Rangasamy E, Liang C, Sakamoto J, More KL, Chi M. Angew Chem Int Ed Engl. 2015 Jan 19
  • The suicide prevention effect of lithium: more than 20 years of evidence-a narrative review. 2015 Dec Lewitzka U, Severus E, Bauer R, Ritter P, Müller-Oerlinghausen B, Bauer M. Int J Bipolar Disord. 2015 Dec
  • Therapeutic Drug Monitoring of Lithium: A Study of the Accuracy and Analytical Variation Between Laboratories in Denmark. 2015 Aug Mose T, Damkier P, Petersen M, Antonsen S. Ther Drug Monit. 2015 Aug
  • ZnFe2O4-C/LiFePO4-CNT: A Novel High-Power Lithium-Ion Battery with Excellent Cycling Performance. 2014 Jul 15 Varzi A, Bresser D, von Zamory J, Müller F, Passerini S. Adv Energy Mater. 2014 Jul 15
  • Lithium therapy in patients with mild mental retardation. 2015 Otter M, van Amelsvoort TA. Tijdschr Psychiatr. 2015