Rubidium was discovered by German chemists Gustav Robert Kirchhoff and Robert Wilhelm Bunsen in 1861 when they were observing the spectrum of the mineral lepidolite as it burned, according to Peter van der Krogt, a Dutch historian.
The spectrum of rubidium showed off two dark red lines, and the scientists named the newly discovered alkali metal rubidium after the Latin word for “deep red.” According to Chemicool, rubidium was extracted from the surrounding mineral by electrolysis. (150 kilograms) of the lepidolite ore was needed in order to extract enough rubidium (about 1.5 percent of the mineral) in order to study its properties.
However, rubidium ions have the same charge as potassium ions, and are actively taken up and treated by animal cells in similar ways.
It is the second most electropositive of the non-radioactive alkali metals and melts at a temperature of 39.3 °C (102.7 °F).
Rubidium is a silvery-white and very soft metal — and one of the most highly reactive elements on the periodic table.
During fractional crystallization, Sr tends to become concentrated in plagioclase, leaving Rb in the liquid phase.
In addition, Rb is a highly incompatible element that, during partial melting of the mantle, prefers to join the magmatic melt rather than remain in mantle minerals. The radiogenic daughter, Sr, is produced in this decay process and was produced in rounds of stellar nucleosynthesis predating the creation of the Solar System.
Different minerals in a given geologic setting can acquire distinctly different ratios of radiogenic strontium-87 to naturally occurring strontium-86 (Sr as the parent melt.
In the case of rubidium, the twin ruby red lines farther into the red part of the spectrum than Bunsen and Kirchoff had ever seen before indicated the presence of a new element. Rubidium becomes liquid at 39.3 Rubidium was discovered in 1861, in Heidelberg, Germany, by Robert Bunsen and Gustav Kirchhoff using spectroscopy, the method the pair had invented and developed in the previous two years.
At the heart of the spectroscope lay a glass prism, which split light coming from a flame into a spectrum – much in the same way that raindrops can split sunlight into a rainbow.