The key difference between beryllium and lithium is that beryllium is a white-grey metal that is diamagnetic, whereas lithium is a silvery-grey metal that is paramagnetic.
Both beryllium and lithium are in the same period, period 2. However, they are in two different groups in the periodic table. Therefore, they have different properties. Both these chemical elements are s-block elements because they have their valence electrons in s orbitals.
What is Beryllium?
Beryllium is an alkaline earth metal having the atomic number 4 and chemical symbol Be. Relatively, it is a rare chemical element in the universe. This metal has a white-grey colour. It is an s-block element because it has its valence electrons in the s orbital. The electron configuration of this element is [He]2s2. According to its electron configuration, beryllium forms divalent cations by removing two electrons from the 2s orbital.
Beryllium is a hard and brittle metal. It has a close-packed hexagonal crystal system. The stiffness of beryllium is said to be exceptional. The melting point of this metal is very high. Moreover, the elasticity of beryllium is greater than that of steel. This metal is diamagnetic because it has no unpaired electrons in its ground state.
When considering the occurrence of beryllium, it has been found that the sun has about 0.1 ppb of beryllium while the concentration of beryllium on earth is about 2-4 ppm. We can mostly observe this metal is sand. It is present in water, but in very trace amounts. There are two main ores of beryllium: beryl and bertrandite
What is Lithium?
Lithium is an alkali metal having atomic number 3 and chemical symbol Li. According to the big bang theory of the creation of the earth, lithium, hydrogen and helium are the major chemical elements produced at the earliest stages of the world creation. The atomic weight of this element is 6.941, and the electron configuration is [He] 2s1. Moreover, it belongs to the s block since it is in group 1 of the periodic table and the melting and boiling points of this element are 180.50 °C and 1330 °C, respectively. It appears in silvery-white colour, and if we burn this metal, it gives a crimson coloured flame.
Furthermore, this metal is very light and soft. Hence, we can cut it easily using a knife. Also, it can float on water, and thus, resulting in an explosive chemical reaction. Moreover, this metal has some unique properties other alkali metals do not have. For example, it is the only alkali metal that can react with nitrogen gas, and it forms lithium nitride upon this reaction. It is the smallest element among other members of this group. Besides, it has the least density among solid metals.
What is the Difference Between Beryllium and Lithium?
Both beryllium and lithium are in the same period, period 2. But, they are in two different groups of the periodic table. Therefore, they have different properties. The key difference between beryllium and lithium is that beryllium is a white-grey metal which is diamagnetic, whereas lithium is a silvery-grey metal which is paramagnetic. Beryllium forms divalent cations wile Lithium forms monovalent cations.
The below infographic summarizes the differences between beryllium and lithium.
Summary – Beryllium vs Lithium
Both beryllium and lithium are in the same period, period 2. But they are in two different groups in the periodic table. Therefore, they have different properties. The key difference between beryllium and lithium is that beryllium is a white-grey metal which is diamagnetic, whereas lithium is a silvery-grey metal which is paramagnetic.
1. “Beryllium.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 17 Jan. 2020, Available here.