What does it look, feel, taste, or smell like?[edit | edit source]
Rubidium is silvery white. It is a soft metal — ductile, meaning it can be drawn out into thin wire without breaking. It has no smell.
How was it discovered?[edit | edit source]
It was discovered in 1861 by two German chemists, Robert Bunsen and Gustav Kirchhoff, using flame spectroscopy. Flame spectroscopy was a new technique at the time; scientists heat material with a flame and observe the spectrum of light the material emits.
Where did its name come from?[edit | edit source]
Bunsen and Kirchhoff named this element after the color of the light they observed from it with their spectroscope. The Latin word rubidus means red.
Where is it found?[edit | edit source]
It occurs naturally in the minerals leucite, pollucite, carnallite, and zinnwaldite, which contain as much as 1% rubidium oxide. Lepidolite contains between 0.3% and 3.5% rubidium, and is the commercial source of the element.
What are its uses?[edit | edit source]
Rubidium is used in some fireworks, for its color. It is also used for various high-tech devices. It is used in vacuum tubes as a getter, a material that combines with and removes trace gases from inside the tubes, to keep the inside of the tube a vacuum. It is used in lasers and high-precision clocks. It is also used in the manufacture of photocells and in special kinds of glass. Since it is easily ionized, it might be used as a propellant in ion engines on spacecraft.
Is it dangerous?[edit | edit source]
Rubidium burns when exposed to water, like potassium.