Lithium Structure & Characteristics: 27 Quick Facts

Lithium is an alkali S block metal belonging to second period and group one of the periodic table. Let us understand more about lithium in following sections.

The atomic number of lithium, is 3 and the symbol used to represent it is Li. It is observed to be solid at room temperature and under standard conditions its observed melting point is around 180°C and melts at 1342°C. The reason for such high values is high energies of binding and ionization.

The observed molecular weight of lithium is 6.94 g/mol. Coming to occurrence, it does not occur as a metal but in combination with rocks (igneous) mineral springs water. In the following sections we will study some important facts like structure, shape, hybridization, etc. in detail.

How to draw lithium structure?

Lewis dot structure can be used to depict the structure of lithium. The below steps explain the representation of the structure of lithium.

1. Finding the electronic configuration of lithium.

The electronic configuration for lithium is 1s2 2s1 as the atomic number is 3. We can observe that according to the written electronic configuration all the electrons occupy the s orbital. The 1s orbital has 2 electrons and one electron is with the 2s orbital.

2.  Electrons available for bonding

The electron that is available for bonding in lithium is one. The other 2 electrons are in the 1s shell, which is very close to the nucleus and hence it will experience attraction force from nucleus. Thus the electron present in the 2s will participate in the process of bonding.

3. Representing lithium as lewis dot structure

Lithium being monoatomic is represented with the symbol Li. In the lewis dot structure Li is placed at the center and its valence electrons are represented as dots around the structure. The below picture explains this in a better way.

Lewis dot structure of lithium

Lithium structure resonance

Resonance helps us in understanding the bonding in molecule in a better way. Let us see the resonance in lithium.

Resonance is not possible in lithium structure. First of all the structure is monoatomic and the electrons present in it are in their stable form. Hence delocalization of the electrons is not seen in the structure of lithium atom.

Lithium structure shape

The crystal structure shape helps us in understanding the properties of the element. Let us analyze for lithium structure.

The lithium structure shape is body centered cubic or bcc. This structure is said to exist in stable form at 25°C. But there is a possibility that at 68097 atm and 22.85°C it changes its shape from body centered cubic to face centered cubic.

Lithium structure formal charge

Formal charge is the type of charge that resides on atom and helps in the process of predicting the lower energy. Let us discuss for lithium.

The formal charge on the lithium structure is zero. The calculation for formal charge of this molecule has been discussed below in detail.

The equation for the calculation of formal charge is

  • Formal charge = valence electrons –  lone pair of electrons – No. of bonds 
  • Formal charge on lithium = 1 – 0 – 1 =  0

Lithium structure angle

The angle in the structure gives us idea about the arrangement of atoms like the repulsion and distance between them. Let us find out for lithium.

The angle of lithium structure is 90°. The angles describing a crystal structure are alpha, beta and gamma. For lithium’s body centered crystal structure  α=β=γ=90°.

Lithium structure octet rule

Octet rule means that all the valencies of atoms should be satisfied in the bonding process and 8 electrons in the valence shell. Let us see for lithium.

The electron present in the outer shell of lithium is one. Meaning it can either share that one electron and complete its octet or receive 7 electrons from other atoms and complete its octet. Most of the times it gives away or shares one electron and forms a single bond with other atoms.

Lithium structure lone pairs

Lone pairs are electrons that are not involved in covalent bonding process and also play role in geometry of molecules. Let us find out for lithium

Lithium structure does not have any lone pairs of electrons. The reason is it is in the elemental form and exists as monoatomic. Usually lone pairs come into picture when bond formation is taking place with another atom.

Lithium valence electrons

Valence electrons are the ones that are present in the outermost shell of an atom. Let us find out valence electrons in lithium.

The number of valence electrons in lithium is one. This s block element has all its electrons in s orbital itself as the atomic number is quite low i.e. 3. Hence there is only one electron present in the outermost 2s shell.

Lithium hybridization

The process of intermixing the atomic orbitals in order to give new set of orbitals with different energies is called hybridization. Let’s see for lithium.

Hybridization of Lithium comes into picture when atoms are bonded covalently. If lithium forms covalent bond with other atoms, then we can predict the hybridization. The type of atom involved in bond formation with lithium plays a key role in determining the hybridization.

Lithium solubility

Solubility refers to the extent to which a substance can dissolve in a given solvent. Solubility differs with temperature. Let us analyze for lithium.

When lithium is present in its elemental form, it’s solubility in water is very poor. But salts of lithium with chlorides, fluorides, carbonates, etc. are soluble in water. Also compounds of lithium bonded covalently are observed to be soluble in organic liquids like ether, ethanol, etc.

Lithium uses

Due to its unique properties lithium finds application in various industries. Let us see the some applications of lithium.

  • It is used in batteries (rechargeable) which are fitted in electronic devices like cellular phones, laptops, etc.
  • It finds application in industries manufacturing ceramics and glass that are heat resistant, making of alloys, etc.

Is lithium a strong electrolyte?

Electrolyte consists of a medium of ions that are capable of conducting electricity. Let us find out how strong electrolyte is lithium.

Lithium is neither strong or weak electrolyte, it comes under intermediate category because in elemental form it has one unpaired electron. Where as in ionic form it can act as a much more strong electrolyte due to proper covalent bonding.

Is lithium acidic or basic?

The pH range for acidic compounds is 0 to 6 and basic compounds is 8 to 14. Let us study for lithium.

Lithium metal is basic as it belongs to alkali group of elements. The solution of lithium with water gives a pH of around 13.1, which is quite basic. The pH of oxide of lithium is in the range of 10 to 11. Meaning it is basic.

Is lithium polar or non polar?

In polar substances there exists charge separation and in non polar substances there is no charge separation. Let us find out for lithium.

Lithium in element form will not give a clear polarity, so this property can be studied once it involves in bonding. Take the example of LiF, the electronegativity of F is around 4 and Li is 1. So when we subtract two values we will get a considerable amount of difference & hence molecule is polar.

Polarity of lithium totally depends on the type of atom involved in bonding. Consider example if lithium bonds with cesium and forms a compound, the compound will be nonpolar. The electronegativity of Cs is 0.7. On subtracting the two values we will not get a considerable amount of difference.

Is lithium a lewis acid or base ?

Lewis acids are the ones whose octet is incomplete, so can accept electrons. Lewis bases have complete octet and can donate electron pairs. Let’s study for Li.

Lithium can act as lewis acid and lewis base, depending on the type of atom it is forming bond with. Consider the case of LiH in the reaction with aluminium hydride. Here LiH acts as donor of pair of electrons, AlH can accept those electron pair. So here Li is lewis base and AlH is lewis acid.

Consider the example of lithium perchlorate, it is seen to act as lewis acid in Diels-Alder type of reactions. The Li+ (lewis acid) is seen to bind to the dienophile on the basic sites. This accelerates the reaction process.

Is lithium magnetic?

Materials that are attracted towards a magnet are known as magnetic materials. Let us analyze for lithium, if it possesses magnetic character or not.

Lithium is a magnetic substance. We can explain magnetism in lithium by describing the magnetic spin quantum number(ms). So the ms value for Li is +12 & -12 and the spin is one. The spin tells us that it tends to behave as micromagnet possessing a magnetic moment.

Is lithium paramagnetic or diamagnetic?

Materials which have unpaired electrons are known as paramagnetic and the ones that do not have unpaired electrons are diamagnetic. Let us find out for lithium.

Lithium is a paramagnetic element. Atomic number of the metal is 3, the arrangement of electrons is in the manner that all are in s orbital. Two electrons occupy the 1s shell and one electron is in the 2s shell. The electron in the 2s shell is unpaired, hence we can conclude lithium is paramagnetic.

Is lithium a conductor?

A conductor is a substance which allows the flow of electricity as well as heat. Let us check for lithium.

Lithium is a conductor. It has been observed that it very well conducts electricity and heat. The reason for conducting behavior is it possesses metallic type of bonding that permits the delocalized electrons to easily flow from one atom to another. Thus being able to conduct electricity.

Is lithium metallic or nonmetallic?

 A metallic substance is where the bonds formed are metallic and in nonmetallic substance the bond type is nonmetallic. Let us study for lithium.

Lithium is a metallic substance. Metals react vigorously with oxygen, this property is observed in lithium (it can burn at room temperature). It is electrically and thermally conducting. It is a soft alkali metal and hence shows silvery metallic luster upon cutting.

Is lithium a mixture?

Most of the times elements do not exist in single form but as a mixture of various other elements. Let’s analyze for lithium.

Lithium originally exists in a mixture with potassium and chlorine. The separation of lithium is carried out in electrolytic manner from the mixture. As we know ions of lithium are quite soluble, so lithium is usually obtained from oceans in the form of brine.

Is lithium brittle?

A substance which has the tendency to easily break is known as brittle substance. Let us check for lithium.

Lithium is not brittle. It will not easily break upon but it is quite soft and can be cut with quite ease. This property of lithium finds a lot of applications.

Is lithium crystalline or amorphous?

A substance that exists in crystal form is  crystalline and a substance which does not have a clear structure or shape is amorphous. Let’s see for Lithium.

Lithium is crystalline substance. The physical nature is crystal form that has quite a clear shape and structure. The crystalline as discussed above is body centered cubic.

Is lithium lead?

A lead is an element that has atomic number as 82 and represented as Pb. Let us check for lithium.

Lithium is not lead. Lead is a totally different element belonging to p block and 14th group and 6th period. But both the element play a crucial role in manufacturing of batteries.

Is lithium lighter than steel?

We can make use of density in order to compare this property for the two substances. Let us analyze in detail.

Lithium is lighter than steel. Among all the elements lithium is considered to be the lightest one. The density of lithium is around 0.53 g/cm3 and the density of steel is somewhere 8 g/cm3. We can see the density of lithium is least among the two hence it will be the lightest.

Is lithium malleable?

Malleability is the property of substances that they can be given any shape without breaking it. Let’s analyze for lithium.

Lithium is malleable. Yes it can be given any shape without breaking it or cracking it. This property is very helpful in industrial sector.

Is lithium radioactive?

A substance that is observed to emit electromagnetic radiation. Let’s check for lithium.

Lithium is not radioactive. In the elemental form of lithium it will not show any radioactivity. But it has isotopes (mass number = 6 & 7).


Lithium is a s block element with atomic number 3. It has bcc crystalline structure with zero formal charge.

Sania Jakati

This is Sania Jakati from Goa. I am an aspiring chemist pursuing my post graduation in organic chemistry. I believe education is the key element that moulds you into a great human being both mentally and physically. I'm glad to be a member of scintillating branch of chemistry and will try my best to contribute whatever I can from my side and Lambdageeks is the best platform where I can share as well as gain knowledge at the same time. LinkedIn-

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