Changing the color of quantum light on an integrated chip

Optical photons are ideal carriers of quantum information. But to work together in a quantum computer or network, they need to have the same color—or frequency—and bandwidth. Changing a photon's frequency requires altering ...

How a rare plant species could hinder a needed lithium mine

Skyrocketing demand for domestically sourced lithium to meet federal goals for zero-emission technologies has developers planning for the next great mining boon in the Silver State, but a rare wildflower may stymie one proposed ...

Stable sodium anodes for sodium metal batteries

Sodium secondary batteries have a similar working principle to lithium secondary batteries but are low-cost and are expected to serve as a powerful supplement to lithium secondary batteries. Solid-state batteries offer high-safety ...

Lithium hydride mediates hydrogenolysis of anilines to arenes

A research group led by Prof. Guo Jianping and Prof. Chen Ping from the Dalian Institute of Chemical Physics (DICP) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, in collaboration with Prof. Wu An'an from Xiamen University, revealed ...

Improving battery safety and efficiency for electric vehicles

As electric vehicles and personal portable electronics become more ubiquitous, researchers are trying to solve some of the major limitations of current lithium-ion battery technology, which uses a graphite anode and a lithium-based ...

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Lithium

Lithium (pronounced /ˈlɪθiəm/) is the chemical element with atomic number 3, and is represented by the symbol Li. It is a soft alkali metal with a silver-white color. Under standard conditions it is the lightest metal and the least dense solid element. Like all alkali metals lithium is highly reactive, corroding quickly in moist air to form a black tarnish. For this reason lithium metal is typically stored under the cover of oil. When cut open lithium exhibits a metallic luster, but contact with oxygen quickly turns it back to a dull silvery gray color. Lithium in its elemental state is highly flammable.

According to theory, lithium was one of the few elements synthesized in the Big Bang. Since its current estimated abundance in the universe is vastly less than that predicted by theory; the processes by which new lithium is created and destroyed, and the true value of its abundance, continue to be active matters of study in astronomy. The nuclei of lithium are relatively fragile: the two stable lithium isotopes found in nature have lower binding energies per nucleon than any other stable compound nuclides, save for the exotic and rare deuterium, and 3He. Though very light in atomic weight, lithium is less common in the solar system than 25 of the first 32 chemical elements.

Due to its high reactivity it only appears naturally in the form of compounds. Lithium occurs in a number of pegmatitic minerals, but is also commonly obtained from brines and clays. On a commercial scale, lithium metal is isolated electrolytically from a mixture of lithium chloride and potassium chloride.

Trace amounts of lithium are present in the oceans and in some organisms, though the element serves no apparent vital biological function in humans. However, the lithium ion Li+ administered as any of several lithium salts has proved to be useful as a mood stabilizing drug due to neurological effects of the ion in the human body. Lithium and its compounds have several industrial applications, including heat-resistant glass and ceramics, high strength-to-weight alloys used in aircraft, and lithium batteries. Lithium also has important links to nuclear physics. The transmutation of lithium atoms to tritium was the first man-made form of a nuclear fusion reaction, and lithium deuteride serves as a fusion fuel in staged thermonuclear weapons.

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