38 rubidiumstrontiumyttrium


Name, Symbol, Number strontium, Sr, 38
Chemical series alkaline earth metals
Group, Period, Block 2, 5, s
Appearance silvery white metallic
Atomic mass 87.62(1) g/mol
Electron configuration [Kr] 5s2
Electrons per shell 2, 8, 18, 8, 2
Physical properties
Phase solid
Density (near r.t.) 2.64 g/cm³
Liquid density at m.p. 6.980 g/cm³
Melting point 1050 K
(777 °C, 1431 °F)
Boiling point 1655 K
(1382 °C, 2520 °F)
Heat of fusion 7.43 kJ/mol
Heat of vaporization 136.9 kJ/mol
Heat capacity (25 °C) 26.4 J/(mol·K)
Vapor pressure
P/Pa 1 10 100 1 k 10 k 100 k
at T/K 796 882 990 1139 1345 1646
Atomic properties
Crystal structure cubic face centered
Oxidation states 2
(strongly basic oxide)
Electronegativity 0.95 (Pauling scale)
Ionization energies
1st: 549.5 kJ/mol
2nd: 1064.2 kJ/mol
3rd: 4138 kJ/mol
Atomic radius 200 pm
Atomic radius (calc.) 219 pm
Covalent radius 192 pm
Magnetic ordering paramagnetic
Electrical resistivity (20 °C) 132 nΩ·m
Thermal conductivity (300 K) 35.4 W/(m·K)
Thermal expansion (25 °C) 22.5 µm/(m·K)
Shear modulus 6.1 GPa
Poisson ratio 0.28
Mohs hardness 1.5
CAS registry number 7440-24-6
Notable isotopes
Main article: Isotopes of strontium
iso NA half-life DM DE (MeV) DP
82Sr syn 25.36 d ε - 82Rb
83Sr syn 1.35 d ε - 83Rb
β+ 1.23 83Rb
γ 0.76, 0.36 -
84Sr 0.56 percent Sr is stable with 46 neutrons
85Sr syn 64.84 d ε - 85Rb
γ 0.514D -
86Sr 9.86 percent Sr is stable with 48 neutrons
87Sr 7.0 percent Sr is stable with 49 neutrons
88Sr 82.58 percent Sr is stable with 50 neutrons
89Sr syn 50.52 d ε 1.49 89Y
β- 0.909D -
90Sr syn 28.90 y β- 0.546 90Y

Strontium (chemical symbol Sr, atomic number 38) is a soft, silvery white metallic element that occurs naturally in the minerals celestite and strontianite. Highly reactive chemically, it is converted to its yellowish oxide when exposed to air. Classified as an alkaline earth metal, it reacts with water to produce the alkali strontium hydroxide. The properties of strontium are closest to those of calcium, and it can replace calcium in bone tissue.

When burned, strontium salts produce an attractive red color, and they are therefore used in pyrotechnic displays and aerosol paints. In addition, strontium is widely used in the glass screens of color television sets. Strontium titanate has a various applications in optics, strontium aluminate is used as a phosphorescent material, and strontium chloride may be added to toothpastes for people with sensitive teeth. The radioactive isotopes and 90Sr are used in cancer therapy, and the latter may also be used in devices that generate electrical power for spacecraft and remote weather stations.


Although the stable isotopes of strontium are not a threat to human health, unrestricted exposure to the radioactive isotope 90Sr—which is present in nuclear fallout—can lead to various bone disorders and bone cancer. On the other hand, controlled doses of 90Sr are useful in cancer therapy. This isotope may also be used in devices that generate electrical power for spacecraft and remote weather stations.

Occurrence and isolation

Strontium occurs commonly in nature amd has been estimated to be the fifteenth most abundant element on Earth, averaging 0.034 percent of all igneous rock. Given its extreme reactivity, its natural occurrence is only in the form of compounds with other elements. Its chief minerals are celestite (strontium sulfate, SrSO4) and strontianite (strontium carbonate, SrCO3). The largest commercially exploited deposits are found in England.

Of the two minerals, celestite occurs in sufficient amounts in sedimentary deposits to make development of mining facilities attractive. It would be more useful to mine strontianite because strontium is used more often in the carbonate form, but there are relatively few known deposits suitable for development.

The metallic form of strontium can be prepared by electrolysis of melted strontium chloride mixed with potassium chloride. The reactions at the electrodes can be represented as follows.

cathode: Sr2+ + 2 e- → Sr
anode: 2 Cl- → Cl2 (g) + 2 e-

Alternatively, strontium can be produced by reducing strontium oxide with aluminum in a vacuum, at a temperature at which strontium distills off.


In 1790, while examining samples of the barium mineral witherite (barium carbonate, BaCO3), Adair Crawford found the samples to contain a previously unrecorded mineral. The new mineral was named strontianite, after the Scottish village of Strontian. The element strontium itself was discovered in 1798, and metallic strontium was first isolated by Sir Humphry Davy in 1808, by the method of electrolysis.

Notable characteristics

As a member of the series of alkaline earth metals, strontium lies in group 2 (former group 2A) of the periodic table, between calcium and barium. In addition, it is placed in period 5, between rubidium and yttrium. As its atomic radius is similar to that of calcium, it readily substitutes for calcium in minerals.

Freshly prepared strontium has a bright silvery color, but on exposure to air it forms the yellow oxide. It is softer than calcium and even more reactive in water. On contact with water, strontium reacts to produce strontium hydroxide and hydrogen gas. Three allotropes of strontium are known, with transition points at 235 and 540 °C.

Strontium normally does not react with nitrogen below 380 °C, and forms only the oxide at room temperature. When finely powdered, however, the metal ignites spontaneously in air to produce both strontium oxide and strontium nitride. To prevent it from reacting with air or water, strontium should be stored under kerosene.

Volatile strontium salts impart a beautiful crimson color to flames. These salts are used in pyrotechnics and in the production of flares.


In nature, strontium occurs as four stable isotopes: 84Sr (0.56 percent), 86Sr (9.86 percent), 87Sr (7.0 percent), and 88Sr (82.58 percent). Of these, only 87Sr is radiogenic—it is produced by the decay of a radioactive isotope of rubidium, 87Rb, which has a half-life of 4.88 × 1010 years. It is thought that 87Sr was also produced during "primordial nucleosynthesis" (the early stages of the Big Bang), along with the isotopes 84Sr, 86Sr, and 88Sr. The ratio 87Sr/86Sr is the parameter typically reported in geologic investigations. In minerals and rocks, the ratios range from about 0.7 to greater than 4.0.

In addition to the stable isotopes, 16 unstable isotopes of strontium are known. Among them, the most significant one is 90Sr, with a half-life of 28.78 years. As a byproduct of nuclear fission, it is present in nuclear fallout and presents a health problem because it substitutes for calcium in bone, preventing expulsion from the body. The 1986 Chernobyl nuclear accident contaminated a vast area with 90Sr.


Commercial uses

  • Strontium is widely used in the screen glass (cathode ray tubes) of color television sets.
  • Aerosol paints may contain strontium. This appears to be one of the most likely sources of public exposure to strontium.
  • Strontium is used for the production of ferrite magnets and refining zinc.
  • Strontium salts are commonly used in pyrotechnic displays, for their ability to produce a red color during combustion.
  • Strontium titanate has an extremely high refractive index and optical dispersion, making it useful in a variety of applications in optics. It can act as a diamond simulant, but it is rarely used for that purpose because of its extreme softness and vulnerability to scratching.
  • Strontium aluminate is used as a bright phosphor, with long persistence of phosphorescence.
  • Strontium chloride is occasionally used in toothpastes for sensitive teeth.
  • Strontium oxide is sometimes used to improve the quality of pottery glazes.
  • The isotope 90Sr is one of the best long-lived, high-energy beta emitters known. It is used as a power source for radioisotope thermoelectric generators (RTGs), which are simple electrical generators that obtain their power from the heat produced by the decay of radioactive elements.[1] These devices hold promise for use in spacecraft, remote weather stations, navigational buoys, and so forth, where a lightweight, long-lived, nuclear-electric power source is required.

Medical uses

  • The isotope 89Sr is the active ingredient in Metastron, a radioactive pharmaceutical used for treating bone pain secondary to metastatic prostate cancer. The strontium acts like calcium and is preferentially incorporated into bone at sites of increased osteogenesis (bone development). This localization focuses the radiation exposure on the cancerous lesion.
  • The radioisotope 90Sr is also used in cancer therapy. Its beta emission and long half-life are ideal for superficial radiotherapy.
  • An experimental drug made by combining strontium with ranelic acid has aided in bone growth, boosted bone density, and lessened fractures (El-Hajj 2004; Meunier et al. 2004). Strontium ranelate is registered in Europe for the treatment of osteoporosis.


Pure strontium is extremely reactive, and finely divided strontium burns spontaneously. It is therefore considered a fire hazard.

Effects on the human body

The human body absorbs strontium as if it were calcium. These two elements are chemically so similar that the stable forms of strontium do not pose a significant health threat. By contrast, the radioactive isotope 90Sr can lead to various bone disorders and diseases, including bone cancer. The "strontium unit" is used in measuring radioactivity from absorbed 90Sr.

See also


  • Los Alamos National Laboratory – Strontium. Retrieved October 6, 2006.
  • – Strontium
  • El-Hajj Fuleihan G. (2004). Strontium ranelate — a novel therapy for osteoporosis or a permutation of the same?. New England Journal of Medicine 350 (Jan 29): 504-506. PMID 14749460.
  • Meunier P.J., C. Roux, E. Seeman, S. Ortolani, J. E. Badurski, T. D. Spector, J. Cannata, A. Balogh, E. M. Lemmel, S. Pors-Nielsen, R. Rizzoli, H. K. Genant, J. Y. Reginster (2004). The effects of strontium ranelate on the risk of vertebral fracture in women with postmenopausal osteoporosis. New England Journal of Medicine 350 (Jan 29): 459-468. PMID 14749454.

External links

All links retrieved October 23, 2015.


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