|Name: rubidium||Group number: 1|
|Symbol: Rb||Group name: Alkali metal|
|Atomic number: 37||Period number: 5|
|Atomic weight: 85.4678 (3) g||Block: s-block|
|CAS Registry ID: 7440-17-7||Voice: |
|Standard state: solid at 298 K||Colour: silvery white|
|Classification: Metallic||Availability: |
Image adapted with permission from Prof James Marshall"s (U. North Texas, USA) Walking Tour of the elements CD.
Rubidium can be liquid at ambient temperature, but only on a hot day given that its melting point is about 40°C. It is a soft, silvery-white metallic element of the alkali metals group (Group 1). It is one of the most most electropositive and alkaline elements. It ignites spontaneously in air and reacts violently with water, setting fire to the liberated hydrogen. As so with all the other alkali metals, it forms amalgams with mercury. It alloys with gold, caesium, sodium, and potassium. It colours a flame yellowish-violet.
Nearing Zero cartoon included by kind permission of Nick Kim.
IsolationHere is a brief summary of the isolation of rubidium.
Rubidium would not normally be made in the laboratory as it is available commercially. All syntheses require an electrolytic step as it is so difficult to add an electron to the poorly electronegative rubidium ion Rb+.
Rubidium is not made by the same method as sodium as might have been expected. This is because the rubidium metal, once formed by electrolysis of liquid rubidium chloride (RbCl), is too soluble in the molten salt.
cathode: Rb+(l) + e- Rb (l)anode: Cl-(l) 1/2Cl2 (g) + e-
Instead, it is made by the reaction of metallic sodium with hot molten rubidium chloride.
Na + RbCl Rb + NaCl
This is an equilibrium reaction and under these conditions the rubidium is highly volatile and removed from the system in a form relatively free from sodium impurities, allowing the reaction to proceed.