Periodic Table -> Rubidium


Rubidium Details

Rubidium Symbol: Rb

Rubidium Atomic Number: 37

Rubidium Atomic Weight: 85.47

What is Rubidium?

Rubidium is a metal that belongs to the alkali group and forms alloys with elements such as potassium, sodium, cesium, and gold. It is silvery-white in color and soft and is composed of 2 isotopes. It was discovered by the German physicist Gustav Kirchhoff and the chemist Robert Bunsen in 1861. Studying the properties of lepidolite, which is a type of aluminum, potassium, and lithium silicate, they found a new metal and named it rubidium. The word comes from Latin and means deepest red.

Isotopes, Compounds, and Properties
Rubidium is water reactive and non-radioactive. It is found in minerals such as zinnwaldite, carnallite, pollucite, leucite, and others. The metal also occurs in potassium chlorides, potassium minerals, and lepidolite. Its main isotopes are rubidium-87 and rubidium-85, and the isotopes are 11 in total. Radioisotopes such as Ru-95 and Ru-97 have been isolated in laboratory conditions. Other isotopes are produced synthetically but have few applications due to their high radioactivity. They also have comparatively shorter half lives of less than 3 months.

Sites, Uses, and Applications
The two main mining sites are found on the island of Elba and in Manitoba, Canada. The Canadian site has rich deposits of pollucite, which also contains caesium. It is usually isolated as a byproduct of lithium extraction. The fact that it is widely scattered explains why production is more limited. The metal is extracted in the form of potassium carbonate which is used to produce glass, wine, grass jelly, and soap. The salt contains small quantities of caesium carbonates and rubidium. Another problem is that the metal is found together with other alkalis such as caesium and extraction requires ion-exchange methods. One way to extract metals is reduction with sodium or calcium and another is electrolysis. Another problem is that the metal ignites in air which makes processing more difficult. The fact that there are few commercial applications can be explained with the complex extraction, limited supply, and high prices. Its compounds, however, have different commercial applications. Compounds that are used in different industries include rubidium silver iodide, carbonate, copper sulfate, and hydroxide. Rubidium carbonate, for example, is used to produce optical glasses. The metal also has many halides, salts, and oxides, including rubidium iodide, bromide, chloride, fluoride, and monoxide.

The metal has different applications and is used to produce gases, for condensation, and in thermoelectric generators. In addition, rubidium is used in the ceramics and glass industries and to produce photocells. Other applications have been explored as well, including ion engines for spacecraft. The metal is also used for scientific research. It is alloyed with gold and mercury to make dental amalgams. In addition, rubidium is used to produce fireworks while one of its isotopes, rubidium-87 is used in the development of magnetometers with high sensitivity. It is a relatively common isotope. Wieman, Ketterle, and Cornell won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2001 for producing Bose-Einstein condensate from rubidium-87. This is a form of matter whereby subatomic particles and atoms come together to form a single entity.

Health and Environmental Effects
This metal is toxic when ingested. Chemical burns of the skin and eyes are possible. In case of exposure to high concentrations, there are signs and side effects such as nervousness, skin ulcers, irritation, and ataxia. Patients with cardiovascular problems and those with potassium imbalance must be extra cautious, and medical treatment may be required in some cases. Side effects usually occur as a result of ingestion, inhalation, and skin contact. Contaminated clothes should be removed immediately. Rubidium is not considered an environmental hazard.

You can link to this page, using the code below:

Periodic Table | Banks

© 2015 | Privacy | About | Contact