Home » Rubidium: An Introduction To This Alkali Metal Element

Rubidium: An Introduction To This Alkali Metal Element

by chemdude71

Rubidium is a chemical element that is part of the alkali metal family, and is one of the most abundant elements on Earth. It has a unique atomic structure and chemical properties that make it both fascinating and useful.

Rubidium has been used in a variety of industrial, pharmaceutical, and medical applications, but its history dates back to the early 19th century.


This article provides an introduction to the chemical element rubidium, including a definition of alkali metal elements, the properties of rubidium, it’s sources and uses, safety protocols when handling it, and its historical importance. We’ll also look at the future of rubidium and alkali metal elements.

To begin with, it is important to understand what an alkali metal element is. Alkali metals are a group of elements found in the periodic table, and they are distinguished by their reactivity and their low ionization energy.

This group includes lithium, sodium, potassium, rubidium, cesium, and francium. These elements share a few common characteristics, including a low density and a low melting point.

Rubidium is a soft, silvery-white metal that has a low density and a melting point of just 39.3°C. It is one of the least reactive of the alkali metals and is the least abundant of all the elements in the Earth’s crust. It is also the most volatile alkali metal, meaning it evaporates to form a gas at temperatures as low as 150°C.

Rubidium is unique in that it does not form covalent bonds, which are bonds between atoms of the same element. Instead, it forms ionic bonds with other elements. This is due to its low ionization energy. Its atomic structure is also unique, with 5 electrons and 5 protons. This makes it highly reactive, and it readily forms compounds with other elements.

Rubidium has a number of interesting properties that make it useful in various industrial, pharmaceutical, and medical applications. It is used to make alloys, to create glass coatings, and to make dyes.

It is also used in gas discharge lamps, and it can be found in various laboratory and medical instruments. It has even been used in early technologies, such as telegraphs and x-ray machines.

Rubidium is found in nature, but it is also commercially available. It is produced from ores, such as the mineral pollucite, which is found in Canada and the United States. It is also extracted from seawater and extracted from certain rocks. The mining and extraction methods used to acquire rubidium vary, depending on the source and purity of the element.

Rubidium has a variety of industrial applications, including use in alloys, glass coatings, and dyes. It is also used in gas discharge lamps, laboratory instruments, and medical equipment.

Rubidium is also used in pharmaceuticals and medical uses, such as in treating certain types of heart conditions and in certain cancer treatments. It is also used in research and development, particularly in nuclear physics and astronomy.

When handling rubidium, it is important to take safety precautions, as it can be hazardous. Protective gear and safety procedures should be used when dealing with the element, and all disposal and security protocols should be followed. It is also important to keep rubidium away from any sources of heat or fire, as it is highly flammable.

Rubidium was first discovered in the early 19th century by German chemists Robert Bunsen and Gustav Kirchoff. Since then, it has been used in a variety of technologies, including early telegraphs and x-ray machines. Recently there have been a number of breakthroughs in the use of rubidium, including its use in medical treatments and laboratory research.

In conclusion, rubidium is a chemical element that belongs to the alkali metal family. It has a unique atomic structure and chemical properties that make it useful in a variety of industrial, pharmaceutical, and medical applications.

Rubidium is both found in nature and commercially available, and safety protocols should be followed when handling it. Rubidium has a long history of use in technology, and there have been a number of recent breakthroughs in its usage.

The future of rubidium and other alkali metal elements looks promising, and it is sure to continue to have a significant impact on the world.


Properties of Rubidium

Rubidium is an alkali metal element, and the second lightest element in the alkali metal family. It’s symbol is Rb, and its atomic number is 37. Like all alkali metals, rubidium is highly reactive and will immediately oxidize when exposed to water or moisture. Its reactivity and flammability make it one of the most explosive and dangerous alkali metals available.

Physical Characteristics:

Rubidium is a soft, silvery metal that is solid at room temperature. It has a low melting point of only 39.3 degrees Celsius, and a boiling point of 688 degrees Celsius.

It is very light, weighing only about 1.5 times that of water, meaning it is approximately 1.5 times as dense as the air. Rubidium is also extremely malleable and ductile, and is easily shaped and formed.

Chemical Properties:

Rubidium is highly corrosive, and will rapidly react with neutral substances to form rubidium salts. It is also highly reactive with other elements and can form a variety of compounds when combined with oxygen, chlorine, sulfur, or other elements. It is also very reactive with metals and is capable of forming alloys with other metals.

Atomic Structure:

Rubidium has a spherically symmetrical atomic structure, with 19 electrons in its outer shell. Of these electrons, 18 are in the s orbital, while the remaining electron is in the p orbital. The atomic mass of rubidium is 85.468, and its relative atomic mass is 85.468 amu.

Its atomic number is 37, which makes it the second lightest alkali metal. Its atomic radius is 2.17 angstroms, and its electronegativity is 0.82 on the Pauling scale. It has five stable isotopes, and a half-life of 48.8 days.


Sources of Rubidium

Rubidium is one of the alkali metal elements and is found in the earth’s crust in small amounts. It is considered to be relatively uncommon compared to other elements like sodium and potassium. Despite its rarity, rubidium is an essential element in many industries. As such, it is important to understand where this element can be sourced from.

Natural Sources:

Rubidium can be found in nature in its pure metallic form, as well as in minerals like lepidolite. It is also found in trace amounts in some plants and animals.

These natural sources are not very abundant and the amount of rubidium collected from these sources is usually not enough to be commercially viable.

Commercial Sources:

The majority of rubidium used in industry is obtained from commercial sources. These sources are usually mineral ores such as spodumene, lepidolite, and pollucite, which are then mined and processed.

The chemical separation process used to extract rubidium from these ores is complex and requires a number of steps. These processes are usually done in a laboratory setting and involve the use of sophisticated equipment.

Mining and Extraction Methods:

Mining for rubidium typically involves physical methods like open-pit mining. This involves extracting the ore with the help of machinery and heavy equipment. Once extracted, the ore is then crushed and processed to separate the rubidium from other elements.

The ore is usually treated with a variety of chemicals and acids in order to extract the rubidium from the ore. The extracted rubidium is then purified and concentrated before it is ready for commercial use.

Rubidium can also be extracted from seawater and brines. This involves the use of electrolysis to separate the rubidium from other salts and compounds. This method can be cost-effective and does not require the use of complex mining and extraction techniques.

The various sources of rubidium provide a variety of options for those looking to acquire the element. Whether it is mined from the earth or extracted from seawater, it is important to understand the various sources of rubidium and how they can be utilized in industry.

Rubidium and Cesium metal crystals

Rubidium and Cesium metal crystals

Uses of Rubidium

Rubidium has many different uses in the modern world, most of which are related to its unique chemical and physical properties. Industrial applications of rubidium are widespread; it is used in a variety of applications, from making specialty glass to creating unique alloys.

It is also used in the pharmaceutical and medical industry, as well as for research and development purposes.

Rubidium’s low melting point makes it ideal for specialty glass production, as it can easily be melted and formed. It is added to glass to increase its optical transmission range, making it suitable for use in optics and lasers. Rubidium is also used in the creation of alloys for a variety of applications, as it increases the hardness, strength, and wear resistance of the alloy.

In the pharmaceutical and medical industries, rubidium is used in nuclear medicine, as it can be used to create radioactive isotopes that can be used to diagnose and treat various diseases. It can also be used as a contrast agent to aid in MRI imaging, radiography and other medical imaging procedures.

In research and development, rubidium is used to create nanoparticles that can be used to create new materials, as well as in fuel cells and fuel cells sensors. It is also used in synthetic rubber production, as a catalyst to increase the rate of reaction.


History of Rubidium

The discovery of the chemical element rubidium dates back to the early 19th century. It was first isolated in 1861 by German chemists Robert Bunsen and Gustav Kirchhoff. The two chemists were able to identify the element by burning the mineral lepidolite and analyzing the emitted spectrum of the flame.

They were able to determine that it was a new element, and they named it rubidium, after the deep red color of the flame.

In the early days of rubidium, its use was limited to the technology of the time, including photography, radio transmitters, and early computers. It was also used in medical treatments, such as the extraction of radioactive rubidium from human tissue.

In the 1930s, chemists were able to develop an electrolytic method of extracting rubidium from its ore, which made it easier and cheaper to obtain the element.

In the 1940s, rubidium was used in the development of the atomic bomb. It was used as fuel to make the reaction stronger and more efficient. In the 1950s, the element was used in the development of the first nuclear reactors. Rubidium, along with other elements, is also used in the production of both man-made and natural nuclear fuel.

Today, rubidium is used in a variety of industrial applications, including in the production of glass and ceramics, and as a catalyst in certain chemical reactions. It is also used in the pharmaceutical industry, as an ingredient in some medical treatments. In addition, rubidium is used in research and development because of its unique atomic structure.

Rubidium has also been used in recent development of quantum computers, due to its ability to interact with light waves. Scientists believe that rubidium could revolutionize the way computers are created and used in the near future.

Rubidium has come a long way since its discovery in the early 19th century. From its initial use in basic technologies, it has now been used in the production of nuclear weapons, the development of nuclear reactors, and the creation of quantum computing. It is now an integral part of many industries and research and development efforts.



Rubidium is the chemical element with the symbol Rb
Its atomic number is 37
It is a very soft, whitish-grey solid in the alkali metal group
German chemists Robert Bunsen and Gustav Kirchhoff discovered rubidium in 1861
Rubidium is the first alkali metal in the group to have a density higher than water

On Earth, natural rubidium comprises two isotopes: 72% is a stable isotope 85Rb, and 28% is slightly radioactive 87Rb
The name comes from the Latin word rubidus, meaning deep red, the color of its emission spectrum
rubidium metal reacts violently with water
Thirty rubidium isotopes have been synthesized with half-lives of less than 3 months
Rubidium is the twenty-third most abundant element in the Earth’s crust

It occurs naturally in the minerals leucite, pollucite, carnallite, and zinnwaldite.
Rubidium does not have a lot of industrial or commercial uses
Rubidium is the 18th most abundant element in seawater
Rubidium is most often produced as a byproduct of potassium or caesium production.
An average-sized adult contains about 0.36 grams of rubidium in his body.

Rubidium is actively absorbed by both plants and animals but does not seem to serve a vital purpose.
Rubidium compounds are sometimes used in fireworks to give them a purple color


Pronunciation roo-BID-ee-əm
Appearance grey white
Standard atomic weight Ar°(Rb)
  • 85.4678±0.0003
  • 85.468±0.001 (abridged)
Rubidium in the periodic table
Atomic number (Z) 37
Group group 1: hydrogen and alkali metals
Period period 5
Block   s-block
Electron configuration [Kr] 5s1
Electrons per shell 2, 8, 18, 8, 1
Physical properties
Phase at STP solid
Melting point 312.45 K ​(39.30 °C, ​102.74 °F)
Boiling point 961 K ​(688 °C, ​1270 °F)
Density (near r.t.) 1.532 g/cm3
when liquid (at m.p.) 1.46 g/cm3
Triple point 312.41 K, ​? kPa
Critical point 2093 K, 16 MPa (extrapolated)
Heat of fusion 2.19 kJ/mol
Heat of vaporization 69 kJ/mol
Molar heat capacity 31.060 J/(mol·K)
Vapor pressure
P (Pa) 1 10 100 1 k 10 k 100 k
at T (K) 434 486 552 641 769 958
Atomic properties
Oxidation states −1, +1 (a strongly basic oxide)
Electronegativity Pauling scale: 0.82
Ionization energies
  • 1st: 403 kJ/mol
  • 2nd: 2632.1 kJ/mol
  • 3rd: 3859.4 kJ/mol
Atomic radius empirical: 248 pm
Covalent radius 220±9 pm
Van der Waals radius 303 pm
Other properties
Natural occurrence primordial
Crystal structure ​body-centered cubic (bcc)
Speed of sound thin rod 1300 m/s (at 20 °C)
Thermal expansion 90 µm/(m⋅K)(at r.t.)
Thermal conductivity 58.2 W/(m⋅K)
Electrical resistivity 128 nΩ⋅m (at 20 °C)
Magnetic ordering paramagnetic
Molar magnetic susceptibility +17.0×10−6 cm3/mol (303 K)
Young’s modulus 2.4 GPa
Bulk modulus 2.5 GPa
Mohs hardness 0.3
Brinell hardness 0.216 MPa
CAS Number 7440-17-7
Discovery Robert Bunsen and Gustav Kirchhoff (1861)
First isolation George de Hevesy
Main isotopes[6] Decay
abun­dance half-life (t1/2) mode pro­duct
82Rb synth 1.2575 m β+ 82Kr
83Rb synth 86.2 d ε 83Kr
84Rb synth 32.9 d ε 84Kr
β+ 84Kr
β 84Sr
85Rb 72.2% stable
86Rb synth 18.7 d β 86Sr
87Rb 27.8% 4.97×1010 y β 87Sr

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