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Lithium (from Greek: λίθος lithos, "stone") is a chemical element with symbol Li and atomic number 3. It is a soft, silver-white metal belonging to the alkali metal group of chemical elements.

Under standard conditions it is the lightest metal and the least dense solid element. Like all alkali metals, lithium is highly reactive and flammable. For this reason, it is typically stored in mineral oil. When cut open, it exhibits a metallic luster, but contact with moist air corrodes the surface quickly to a dull silvery gray, then black tarnish. Because of its high reactivity, lithium never occurs freely in nature, and instead, only appears in compounds, which are usually ionic. Lithium occurs in a number of pegmatitic minerals, but due to its solubility as an ion, is present in ocean water and is commonly obtained from brines and clays. On a commercial scale, lithium is isolated electrolytically from a mixture of lithium chloride and potassium chloride.

The nuclei of lithium verge on instability, since the two stable lithium isotopes found in nature have among the lowest binding energies per nucleon of all stable nuclides. Because of its relative nuclear instability, lithium is less common in the solar system than 25 of the first 32 chemical elements even though the nuclei are very light in atomic weight. For related reasons, lithium has important links to nuclear physics. The transmutation of lithium atoms to helium in 1932 was the first fully man-made nuclear reaction, and lithium-6 deuteride serves as a fusion fuel in staged thermonuclear weapons.

Lithium and its compounds have several industrial applications, including heat-resistant glass and ceramics, lithium grease lubricants, flux additives for iron, steel and aluminium production, lithium batteries and lithium-ion batteries. These uses consume more than three quarters of lithium production.

Trace amounts of lithium are present in all organisms. The element serves no apparent vital biological function, since animals and plants survive in good health without it. Non-vital functions have not been ruled out. The lithium ion Li+ administered as any of several lithium salts has proved to be useful as a mood-stabilizing drug in the treatment of bipolar disorder, due to neurological effects of the ion in the human body.



Isotopes of Lithium. Occurance. History. Production. Uses. Precautions. Lithium (medication) This article is about lithium as a medication.

Lithium (medication)

For more general information on lithium as a chemical, see Lithium. Lithium is used primarily for bipolar disorder.[4] It is sometimes used when other treatments are not effective in a number of other conditions including: major depression, schizophrenia, and some psychiatric disorders in children.[4] In mood disorders, of which bipolar is one, it decreases the risk of suicide.[5] This benefit is not seen with other medications.[6][7] Lithium treatment was previously considered to be unsuitable for children; however, more recent studies show its effectiveness for treatment of early-onset bipolar disorder in children as young as eight.

Two forms of low dose lithium supplementation, lithium aspartate and lithium orotate, may protect the brain and encourage the growth of gray matter in the cerebral cortex and prevent and slow the progression of Alzheimer's disease, senile dementia and Parkinson's disease.[13] Dilithium. It has been observed that 1% (by mass) of lithium in the vapor phase is in the form of dilithium.


[citation needed][clarification needed] Molecules containing more than two lithium atoms covalently bonded together do exist, albeit in smaller quantities than dilithium. Clusters of lithium atoms also exist; the most common arrangement is Li6. [citation needed] Being the lightest stable neutral homonuclear diatomic molecule after H2, dilithium is an extremely important model system for studying fundamentals of physics, chemistry, and electronic structure theory. It is the most thoroughly characterized compound in terms of the accuracy and completeness of the empirical potential energy curves of its electronic states.

Li2 potentials are often used to extract atomic properties. See also[edit] References[edit] ^ Jump up to: a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Le Roy, Robert J.; N. Further reading[edit] New clue to how lithium works in the brain. Since the 1970s, U.S. doctors have prescribed lithium to treat patients with bipolar disorder.

New clue to how lithium works in the brain

While the drug has a good success rate, scientists are still unsure exactly how it achieves its beneficial effects. MIT biologists have now discovered a possible explanation for how lithium works. In a study of worms, the researchers identified a key protein that is inhibited by lithium, making the worms less active. While these behavioral effects in worms can’t be translated directly to humans, the results suggest a possible mechanism for lithium’s effects on the brain, which the researchers believe is worth exploring further. “How lithium acts on the brain has been this great mystery of psychopharmacology,” says Joshua Meisel, an MIT postdoc and lead author of the study.

Dennis Kim, an associate professor of biology, is the senior author of the paper, which appears in the July 7 issue of Current Biology. Mysterious effects “This is an important step in showing a neural function for BPNT-1.