Lithium (Li)

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Lithium 3Li6.939

Lithium was discovered in 1817 by J.A. Arfvedson at Stockholm, Sweden. Isolated in 1821 by W.T. Brande.

[Greek, lithos = stone]

French: lithium
German: lithium
Italian: litio
Spanish: litio

Description: Lithium is a soft, silvery-white metal that reacts slowly with oxygen and water. It is used in lightweight alloys, especially with aluminium and magnesium, and in greases, batteries, glass, medicine and nuclear bombs.



Lithium single crystal properties

State: single crystal
Crystal structure: cubic, bc
Production method: Czochralski
Standard size: diameter 5mm
thickness 3mm
Orientation: (100), (110) and (111)
Orientation accuracy: <2°, <1°, <0.4° or <0.1°
Polishing: as cut
Roughness of surface:  
Purity: 99.8%
Typical analysis (ppm): C 3
H < 1
O 9
N < 5
Cu 1.60
Fe 1.80
Ni < 1
Pb 0.30
Si 0.30

Ga, Hf and Ta are below the detection limit

Materials properties

Density: 0.53 g/cm3
Melting point: 180.54 °C / 453.69 °K
Boiling point: 1346.85 °C / 1620 °K
Molar volume: 13.00 cm3
Thermal conductivity: 84.7 [300 K] Wm-1K-1
Coefficient of linear thermal expansion: 56 x 10-6 K-1
Electrical resistivity: 8.55x 10-8 [273 K] Wm
Mass magnetic susceptibility: +2.56 x 10-8(s) kg-1m3
Young's modulus: 4.91 GPa
Rigidity modulus: 4.24 GPa
Bulk modulus: n.a. GPa
Poisson's ratio: 0.36
Radii: Li+ 78; atomic 152; covalent 123
Electronegativity: 0.98 (Pauling); 0.97 (Allred); 3.01 eV (absolute)
Effective nuclear charge: 1.30 (Slater); 1.28 (Clementi); 1.55 (Froese-Fischer)
Number of Isotopes (incl. nuclear isomers): 5
Issotope mass range: 5 -> 9
Crystal structure, (cell dimentions / pm), space group cubic, bc
X-ray diffraction: mass absorption coefficients: CuKα 0.716 (µ/r) / cm2g-1
MoKα 0.217 (µ/r) / cm2g-1
Neutron scattering length: - 0.190 b/10-12 cm
Thermal neutron capture cross-section: 70.5 sa / barns


Biological data

Biological role: none, but lithium acts to stimulate metabolism and can control manic-depressive disorders
Toxic intake: 20 - 200 g (see under hazards)
Lethal intake: LD50 (carbonate, oral, rat)=525 mg kg-1
Hazards: Lithium is moderately toxic by ingestion but there are wide variations of tolerance. Even lithium carbonate, which is used in psychiatry, is prescribed at doses near to the toxic level. Some lithium c
Level in humans  
Blood: 0.004 mg dm-3
Bone: 1.3 p.p.m.
Liver: 0.025 p.p.m.
Muscle: 0.023 p.p.m.
Daily dietary intake: 0.1 - 2 mg
Total mass of element in average [70 kg] person: 7 mg


Geological data

MineralFormulaDensityHardnessCrystal apperance
Amblygonite (Li, Na)AlPO4(F, OH) 3.1 5.5 - 6 tric., vit./greasy white/grey
Lepidolite K(Li, Al)3(Si, Al)4O10(F, OH)2 2.85 2.5 - 3 mon., pink/lilac, lamellae
Petalite LiAlSi4O10 2.4 6 - 6.5 mon., vit./pearly colourless/white
Spudomene LiAlSi2O6 3.2 6.5 - 7.5 mon., vit. colourless/grey


Chief ore: petalite, lepidolite
World production: 39000 tonnes/year
Main mining areas: USA, lithium is also recovered from brines of Searles Lake in California
Reserves: 7.3 x 106 tonnes
Specimen: available as chunks, ingots, powder ribbon, rod, shot or wire. CARE !


Sun: 10 (relative to H = 1 x 1012)
Earth's crust: 20 p.p.m.
Residence time:  
Classification: accumulating
Oxidation state: I

Source: Emsley, J. (1998) The Elements (3rd Edition)

Overview of elements with access to our shop

1 18
2 13 14 15 16 17
Li Be B C
Na Mg 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 Al Si P S
K Ca Sc Ti V Cr Mn Fe Co Ni Cu Zn Ga Ge As Se
Rb Sr Y Zr Nb Mo
Ru Rh Pd Ag Cd In Sn Sb Te I
Cs Ba La Hf Ta W Re Os Ir Pt Au Hg Tl Pb Bi
Ce Pr Nd
Sm Eu Gd Tb Dy Ho Er Tm Yb Lu

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