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Rubidium's compounds have various chemical and electronic applications.
Rubidium metal is easily vaporized and has a convenient spectral absorption range, making it a frequent target for laser manipulation of atoms.
Rubidium chloride (Rb Cl) is probably the most used rubidium compound: among several other chlorides, it is used to induce living cells to take up DNA; it is also used as a biomarker, because in nature, it is found only in small quantities in living organisms and when present, replaces potassium.
Other common rubidium compounds are the corrosive rubidium hydroxide (Rb OH), the starting material for most rubidium-based chemical processes; rubidium carbonate (Rb Sr.
Rubidium is not a known nutrient for any living organisms.
However, rubidium ions have the same charge as potassium ions and are actively taken up and treated by animal cells in similar ways.
Rubidium metal shares similarities to potassium metal and caesium metal in physical appearance, softness and conductivity.
Therefore, the less soluble rubidium hexachloroplatinate (Rb) could be obtained by fractional crystallization.
Although rubidium is more abundant in Earth's crust than caesium, the limited applications and the lack of a mineral rich in rubidium limits the production of rubidium compounds to 2 to 4 tonnes per year.
For several years in the 1950s and 1960s, a by-product of potassium production called Alkarb was a main source for rubidium.
The highest ratios (10 or more) occur in pegmatites.
If the initial amount of Sr is known or can be extrapolated, then the age can be determined by measurement of the Rb and Sr concentrations and of the Rubidium-82, one of the element's non-natural isotopes, is produced by electron-capture decay of strontium-82 with a half-life of 25.36 days.