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Chemistry of Rubidium (Z=37)

Rubidium (Latin: rubidius = red) is similar in physical and chemical characteristics to potassium, but much more reactive. It is the seventeenth most abundant element and was discovered by its red spectral emission in 1861 by Bunsen and Kirchhoff. Its melting point is so low you could melt it in your hand if you had a fever (39°C). But that would not be a good idea because it would react violently with the moisture in your skin.

Rubidium was once thought to be quite rare but recent discoveries of large deposits indicate that there is plenty to use. However at present it finds only limited application in the manufacture of cathode ray tubes.

Contributors

Stephen R. Marsden (ChemTopics)