Cesium products are used in a large variety of industries and applications like biocatalysis and industrial catalysis, glass manufacturing, and scintillation applications like medical imaging, brazing, and in organic synthesis.
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The most important markets and applications for cesium compounds are:
Because of its low ionization potential, cesium effectively promotes the performance of many metal-oxide catalysts used in heterogeneous processes. This effect is often enhanced by cesium's ability to stabilize high-oxidation states of transition-metal oxo anions.
By forming and stabilizing complex salts with transition-metal-halide catalysts, cesium will also promote heterogeneous halogen transfer processes.
In homogenous catalysis, reaction rates are sometimes limited by the solubility of an anionic compound in an organic solvent, in which case the use of cesium as cation may solve the problem.
Their solubility in polar solvents is the reason why various cesium salts are efficient bases for organic reactions (e.g. cesium fluoride, cesium carbonate). Cesium alkoxides should be considered whenever the sodium and potassium counterparts fail to give good results due to strong influence of the cation on the reaction mechanism. Cesium fluoride is a highly active fluorination agent.
Cesium iodide and fluoride are capable of absorbing x-rays, gamma and particle radiation, and emitting visible light. This so-called scintillation effect is used in medical diagnostics, the exploration of natural resources, and in nuclear physics research.
Various forms of cesium, especially cesium nitrate, cesium carbonate, and cesium bicarbonate are used as glass components to achieve various objectives. The refractive index of optical glass - in the bulk or on the surface only - can be modified by the addition of cesium salts. Through surface ion exchange with cesium-salt melts or solutions, the glass surface can be made resistant to corrosion or breakage.
Cesium compounds such as cesium fluoride or cesium aluminum fluoride are increasingly used as flux components in the brazing of aluminum alloys. In response to growing requirements concerning weight, performance, costs, and quality, these aluminum alloys have recently replaced copper alloys in the automotive industry, e.g. in heat exchanger systems.
They preferably have high magnesium content, as it increases the mechanical strength of the alloy. Cesium containing fluxes can counteract brazing problems arising from this high magnesium content. Conventional fluxes, however, fail in this respect and are therefore not suitable as brazing aids.
High-purity cesium salts, e.g. cesium chloride, cesium sulfate, cesium trifluoroacetate and rubidium chloride are used in the recovery and purification of DNA by means of ultracentrifugation. This is done, for example, in the development of pest-resistant agricultural crops.