Chem Explorers

Cesium: The Illuminating Alkali Metal with Expensive Glow

Cesium: The Alkali Metal that Shines

Cesium is a highly reactive alkali metal that is soft, silvery-white, and melts at a low temperature. It is often used in atomic clocks, electronic components, and drilling fluids in the oil and gas industry.

This article will introduce you to the fascinating world of cesium, including its definition, properties, natural occurrence, and identification.

1) Definition and Properties of Cesium

Cesium is a chemical element with the symbol Cs and atomic number 55. It is one of the five alkali metals, along with lithium, sodium, potassium, and rubidium.

Alkali metals are highly reactive, with chemical properties that make them useful in a variety of industries. Cesium is the most reactive of all alkali metals.

It reacts explosively with water, igniting the hydrogen gas that is produced. Due to its high reactivity, cesium is not found in its pure form in nature.

Instead, it is found in the minerals lepidolite and pollucite. Cesium has several unique properties, including its ability to emit blue light when exposed to water or other substances.

This property is what makes cesium useful in atomic clocks, as it allows scientists to measure time with incredible accuracy.

2) Natural Occurrence and Commercial Production

As mentioned above, cesium is not found in its pure form in nature. Instead, it is produced from the minerals lepidolite and pollucite, which contain small amounts of cesium.

Lepidolite is a type of mica that is found in some igneous rocks, while pollucite is a rare mineral that is found in granite pegmatites. To extract cesium from these minerals, they are first crushed and then leached with water or a strong acid.

The resulting solution is then treated with chemicals to separate out the cesium. This process is expensive and time-consuming, which is why cesium is one of the most expensive metals on the market.

Cesium is also produced as a byproduct of lithium production. Lithium is used in batteries, electric cars, and other electronic devices.

In the process of producing lithium, small amounts of cesium are also produced. These byproducts are then extracted and sold separately.

3) History of Cesium

Cesium was first discovered in 1860 by German scientists Gustav Kirchhoff and Robert Bunsen. They were studying the spectra of mineral water samples when they noticed a strange blue line in the spectrum.

They discovered that this line was caused by a new element, which they named cesium after the Latin word for sky blue. The first commercial production of cesium did not begin until the 1920s, when Swedish chemist Carl Theodor Setterberg developed a method for extracting cesium from pollucite.

Since then, cesium has been used in a variety of industries, from atomic clocks to drilling fluids.

4) Identification

Cesium has an atomic number of 55 and a CAS number of 7440-46-2. In the periodic table, it is located in the alkali metal group, which is the first column of the table.

It is also located in the sixth row, or period, of the table. Cesium is in the s-block, which means its valence electrons are in the outermost s-orbital.

5) Properties and Characteristics

5.1) General Properties

Cesium has an atomic mass of 132.91 g/mol and a molar mass of 132.91 g/mol. Its density at room temperature is 1.93 g/cm3, making it the least dense of all metals.

Cesium is a good conductor of electricity and has a work function of 2.14 eV and a threshold frequency of 3.89 x 1014 Hz.

5.2) Color and Appearance, Flame Test Color, Odor, Luster, Melting and Boiling Points, Density

Cesium has a golden color and a unique appearance that is silvery-white and soft. When exposed to a flame, cesium emits a blue/violet color, which is characteristic of alkali metals.

It has no odor but has a soft, pearly luster that makes it attractive for use in jewelry. Cesium has a low melting point of 28.44 °C, which is the lowest of all metallic elements.

It also has a low boiling point of 671 °C. Its density is lower than that of water, which means that cesium will float on water.

5.3) Chemical Properties and Oxidation State

Cesium is a highly reactive metal and can react explosively with water, producing hydrogen gas. It reacts with other nonmetals, such as oxygen and halogens, to form ionic compounds.

Cesium also has a +1 oxidation state, which is common for alkali metals. Due to cesium’s high reactivity, it is not commonly found in its natural state.

Instead, it is found in minerals such as pollucite and lepidolite.

6) Atomic Data

6.1) Valence Electrons and Ion Charge

Cesium has one valence electron in its outermost shell. This makes it highly reactive, as it only requires one electron to achieve a stable configuration.

When a cesium atom loses this lone valence electron, it forms a cation with a charge of +1.

6.2) Quantum Numbers and Electron Configuration

The quantum numbers of cesium are n = 6, l = 0, m = 0, and s = +1/2. Cesium has an electron configuration of [Xe]6s1, where [Xe] represents the electron configuration of the noble gas xenon.

The configuration indicates that cesium has six energy levels, with the outermost electron located in the s subshell.

6.3) Radius of Atom, Electronegativity, Ionization Energy

Cesium has an atomic radius of 265 pm and a covalent radius of 225 pm.

It is the largest of all the alkali metals due to its low electronegativity. Electronegativity is a measure of an atom’s ability to attract electrons when forming a bond.

Cesium has a low electronegativity of 0.79, which means that it has a low tendency to attract electrons. Cesium has a low ionization energy of 375.7 kJ/mol, which is the amount of energy required to remove one electron from a cesium atom.

This indicates that cesium has a weak hold on its outermost electron, as it only requires a small amount of energy to remove it.

7) Uses of Cesium

7.1) Cesium-beam Frequency Standard and Its Uses

One of the most important uses of cesium is in the cesium-beam frequency standard, also known as the atomic clock. The clock measures the vibration of the cesium atom’s electrons, which is used to keep time with remarkable precision.

The standard time for the entire world is defined by International Atomic Time, which is based on the frequency and stability of cesium atoms. The cesium-beam frequency standard is used in a variety of industries and applications, including GPS systems, scientific research, and telecommunications.

It is also used in navigation systems for ships and aircraft.

7.2) Use as a Catalyst and Getter in Organic Compounds and Vacuum Tubes

Cesium is used as a catalyst and getter in organic compounds and vacuum tubes. As a catalyst, cesium is used to speed up chemical reactions.

It is especially useful in organic compounds, where it has been shown to increase the yield of certain products. Cesium also serves as a getter in vacuum tubes, where it is used to remove impurities and unwanted gases.

The process is known as gettering, and it ensures that vacuum tubes maintain a high level of performance.

7.3) Medical Uses in Cancer Treatment and Radiation Therapy

Cesium-131 is a radioactive isotope of cesium that is used in cancer treatment. It is used in a type of radiation therapy known as brachytherapy.

In this treatment, small amounts of cesium-131 are implanted into the tumor cells, where they emit radiation. The radiation destroys the tumor cells while minimizing damage to the surrounding tissue.

Cesium-137 is another radioactive isotope that is used in medical applications. It is used in radiation therapy to treat certain types of cancer, such as lung cancer and prostate cancer.

The isotope is also used in medical imaging and diagnosis.

7.4) Use in Measuring Earth’s Magnetic Field

Cesium is also used in magnetometers, which are devices used to measure the strength and direction of magnetic fields.

These devices are important for a variety of applications, including navigation and geological surveys. Cesium magnetometers are particularly useful because they can measure magnetic fields with great accuracy and sensitivity.

7.5) Toxicity

Although cesium is not as toxic as some other metals, it can still be dangerous if ingested or contaminated. Ingesting large quantities of cesium can cause severe irritation and damage to the gastrointestinal tract.

It can also cause seizures, coma, and even death. Contamination of the environment with cesium can lead to long-term health effects, including an increased risk of cancer.

8) Interesting Facts

8.1) Nuclear Explosion and Cesium Isotopes

Cesium isotopes play an important role in nuclear explosions. Cesium-137 is a byproduct of nuclear fission, which is the process of splitting atoms in a nuclear reactor.

Cesium-137 is also a major component of nuclear fallout, which is the radioactive material that is released into the atmosphere after a nuclear explosion. After the Chernobyl disaster, which happened in Ukraine in 1986, large amounts of cesium-137 were released into the environment.

The cesium-137 contaminated the soil, water, and air in the surrounding areas, and it is still present today. The contamination has led to an increased incidence of thyroid cancer in the affected population.

9) Conclusion

Cesium is an important and fascinating element that has a wide range of uses and applications, from keeping accurate time to treating cancer. Its unique properties and characteristics make it ideal for a variety of scientific, industrial, and medical applications.

However, its radioactive isotopes and potential toxicity are important concerns that must be recognized and addressed. Overall, cesium remains a valuable and essential element in our modern world.

10) Cesium Price

The price of cesium can vary depending on several factors, including supply and demand, production costs, and market conditions. Cesium is one of the most expensive metals on the market due to its rarity and difficulty of extraction.

Cesium is not found in significant quantities in its pure form in nature. Instead, it is produced from minerals such as lepidolite and pollucite, which contain small amounts of cesium.

The extraction process is complex and costly, involving crushing the minerals and treating them with water or a strong acid to leach out the cesium. The resulting solution is then processed further to separate and purify the cesium.

The overall process is time-consuming and requires specialized equipment and expertise, adding to the production costs. The limited availability of cesium also contributes to its high price.

The main sources of cesium are relatively rare minerals, and mining these minerals is not economically viable in many cases. In addition, the demand for cesium has been increasing in recent years, particularly in industries such as technology and healthcare.

The combination of limited supply and growing demand drives up the price of cesium. As of [current year], the price of cesium is approximately [specific price per kilogram] per kilogram.

However, it’s important to note that the price can fluctuate over time due to market conditions and other factors. In the past, the price of cesium has experienced significant increases and decreases in response to changes in the global economy and shifts in demand.

The high price of cesium has led to efforts to find alternative sources and develop more efficient extraction methods. Scientists and researchers are continually exploring new mineral deposits and investigating innovative techniques for cesium extraction.

These advancements could potentially lead to more cost-effective production methods and a more stable cesium market. It is also worth mentioning that while cesium is expensive, its unique properties and applications justify its price.

The accuracy and stability provided by cesium atomic clocks, for example, are crucial for various industries and technologies. Similarly, the use of cesium in cancer treatment and radiation therapy can save lives and improve patient outcomes.

The value and importance of cesium in these applications outweigh the cost considerations for many users. In conclusion, cesium is a valuable and expensive element due to its rarity, complex extraction process, and increasing demand.

The price of cesium can vary over time, reflecting changes in market conditions and supply and demand dynamics. Despite its high price, cesium’s unique properties and applications make it essential in industries such as timekeeping, technology, healthcare, and more.

Ongoing research and development in cesium extraction methods may help to improve efficiency and stabilize prices in the future. In conclusion, cesium is a valuable and expensive element due to its rarity, complex extraction process, and increasing demand.

The price of cesium can fluctuate over time but is currently around [specific price per kilogram]. Despite its high cost, the unique properties and applications of cesium, including its use in atomic clocks, cancer treatment, and technology, justify its price.

Ongoing research and development in extraction methods may lead to more efficient production and stabilize prices in the future. The importance of cesium in various industries highlights its significance in our modern world.


1) Why is cesium expensive?

Cesium is expensive due to its rarity, complex extraction process, limited availability, and growing demand.

2) What is the current price of cesium?

As of [current year], the price of cesium is approximately [specific price per kilogram].

However, the price can fluctuate over time.

3) What are the main uses of cesium?

Cesium is used in atomic clocks, as a catalyst and getter, in cancer treatment and radiation therapy, to measure the Earth’s magnetic field, and in various technological applications.

4) Is cesium toxic?

While cesium is not as toxic as some other metals, ingesting large quantities or environmental contamination can be harmful. It is important to handle cesium with caution and follow proper safety protocols.

5) Are there efforts to make cesium production more cost-effective?

Yes, ongoing research and development are focused on finding alternative sources, improving extraction methods, and reducing production costs for cesium.

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