Lithium is a chemical element of the periodic table, its atomic number is 3 and it is represented by the symbol Li. It is located in the alkaline elements belonging to group 1.
In its pure form, it is characterized by being a metal with a white and silver tint, it is soft and oxidizes quickly with water or air. It has half the density of water, making it the lightest element and the strongest metal of any in existence.
Similar to other alkali metals, lithium is quite reactive and univalent but in lesser amounts than sodium, so it is not found freely in the environment. Near a flame, this element turns it purple, but in case of violent combustion, it takes on a bright white hue. It is mainly used in electric batteries, in heat-conducting alloys and its salts are useful for treating bipolar disorders.
The name lithium comes from the Greek λίθoς -ου meaning stone. The name of this element comes from the fact that it was discovered in a mineral, unlike other alkali metals which have been found in plant tissues.
Uses of lithium
- Lithium bromide and lithium chloride have high hygroscopicity, so they are very good driers. Lithium chloride is used to contract heat pumps and other compounds such as lithium nitrate.
- Due to its high specific heat, lithium is useful in heat transfer applications due to its high electrochemical potential. It is part of a correct anode in electric batteries.
- Lithium stearate is used as a lubricant primarily for high temperature applications.
- Lithium salts, primarily lithium citrate and lithium carbonate, are used to treat bipolarity, depression, mania, and other psychopathologies. It also stabilizes the mood. It has different mechanisms of action which are distinguished as follows:
- It blocks the results of the postsynaptic neuron: this means that it prevents the reuse of the phosphate groups which belong to inositol triphosphate, responsible for the activation of the release of calcium.
- It establishes a blockage in the release of dopamine: it prevents the hypersensitivity of dopaminergic receptors.
- It replaces the sodium in the synaptic channel by being smaller and slows down the action potential, allowing the patient to be calm.
The use of lithium does not account for being a substrate in the sodium potassium ATPase pump which blocks the transport of sodium ions, overriding its concentration. This at high concentrations can cause a lot of toxicity.
- Lithium hydroxide is used in submarines and spacecraft to purify the air by removing carbon dioxide.
- Lithium is a widely used agent to synthesize organic compounds and to coordinate ligands by applying the use of lithium intermediate.
- Similar to other chemical elements, lithium can also be used in nuclear applications.
- Lithium is a very common component in cadmium, aluminum, manganese and copper alloys. These are used to supply the aircraft construction industry. It is also a resounding success in the manufacture of lenses and ceramics for telescopes.
Lithium electron configuration
Each of the elements is identified by its atomic number represented by the letter Z, which is equal to the number of electrons and protons located in the nucleus of the element.
The atomic number of lithium is 3, which means it has 3 electrons. 2 of them are in the 1s orbit, the third is located in the 2s orbit, occupying a higher energy orbit. The full Electron configuration of lithium is 1s22s1. The abbreviated way to write the configuration of lithium is [He] 2s1.
This happens because the continuous element lithium is taken into account, in particular the rare gas which in this case corresponds to helium. For this reason, only the atomic symbol belonging to helium is used, it is written in brackets specifying that lithium has the same configuration as helium and the 2s1 orbital is added.
This element is identified by the symbol Li, it is found in group 1 belonging to the alkaline elements of the periodic table. In its pure form. Lithium is a soft metal and when in contact with air or water it oxidizes rapidly. It is also very useful in heat conducting alloys.