Three growth points of demand for rare metals cesium and rubidium: 5G, satellite, quantum technology
Application of cesium: As a by-product of chemical lithium production, commercial use has only been around for about 40 years.
(1) Biomedical use: The most famous use is the separation of DNA or deoxyribonucleic acid in liquids. Cesium compounds are used as catalysts in biomedical and chemical research and to label or track compounds. Cesium chloride has recently been found to be effective in the treatment of various cancers and shows great potential as a new therapy for this disease. The radioisotopes of , have long been used in radiation therapy, such as prostate cancer.
(2) Manufacturing: Cesium formate is a special drilling fluid developed by Cabot Company, which is used for drilling deep wells, high pressure and high temperature oil wells. This is by far the largest application of cesium in industry.
(3) Electronics: The low ionization potential of cesium is used in the design of photocells and in photoemission and scintillation devices in electronics. Experiments have proved that the cesium vapor laser computer is a common device for magnetometers used in seabed exploration and mineral exploration geophysics. It is currently used in infrared optics and is finding more and more applications in solar cell technology.
(4) Astronomical clock: Atomic clock - designed in 1999, accurate to one second in 2 million years - the function is based on constant atomic resonance. It is also used for closer spacing of packets, multiplying the capacity of fiber optic cable systems.
(5) Magnetohydrodynamics and ion propulsion engine: can be used as plasma for power generation and ion propulsion engine in deep space probes.
2. Quantum technology
Quantum computing is a high-tech field in the future. From electronic computing to quantum computing is destined to be the inevitable direction of computer development. The information storage of quantum computing is one of the biggest problems faced by quantum computing. In 1987, a research group led by Gerhard Rempe, a scientist at the Max Planck Institute for Quantum Optics in Germany, successfully wrote the quantum state of a single photon into an atom for the first time, and read it out after 180 μs . In 1995, Cornell and Wieman's team successfully cooled a gas containing about 2,000 Rb 87 atoms to a temperature below 170 nK, a large number of atoms clustered to the lowest energy state, forming the Bose-Einstein Condensation (Bose–Einstein condensate), realizing the overall quantum effect, which indicates that rubidium may become a storage material for quantum computing. This is a very promising application direction of rubidium and cesium.
3. Accurate time measurement: Rubidium is an indispensable metal in the 5G era
The time accuracy of the rubidium atomic clock is within 10 million years. Atomic clocks manufactured using the long-term stability of radiant energy and oscillation frequency have achieved an accuracy of less than one second in 5 million years. In 2004, Japan announced that it has been developed, with an accuracy of 20 million years and an error of less than 1 s. In 2006, my country announced that the precision of the laser-cooled atomic clock developed by China reached 40 million years and the error was less than 1s, and it has been running for one year. The rubidium atomic clock manufactured by utilizing this characteristic has good short-term stability and is suitable for places requiring small size, light weight and easy portability.
The threshold of atomic clock technology is high, and the industry concentration is high. At present, the mainstream manufacturers of atomic clocks are mainly Symmetricom, SpectraTime, Oscilloquartz SA in the world, and Tianao Electronics, Aerospace 203 and Aerospace 501 in China. Due to the high threshold of atomic clock technology, the concentration is also high, and there are not many companies that can do it in the world.
The demand for rubidium metal in the 5G era: First, the increased base stations in the 5G era compared to the 4G era will inevitably increase the demand for atomic clocks; second, the application scenarios in the 5G era such as satellite navigation, telemedicine, and autonomous driving in the Internet of Vehicles are highly time-sensitive The demand for high-precision atomic clocks will increase. Every 100 base stations need one central base station to provide time synchronization services, and each central base station needs one time synchronization device, so 5 million 5G large base stations need about 50,000 time synchronization devices. The central base station also needs 2 frequency selection and distribution equipment, and 100,000 frequency components and equipment are required; at the same time, each central base station is equipped with an atomic clock.
4. Ion propulsion engine
The research and application of ion propulsion engines are mainly concentrated in the space applications of spacecraft, earth satellites and interstellar navigation. It is used for orbit control, azimuth maintenance and drag compensation of spacecraft. It is 10% to 15% lighter than commonly used hydrazine fueled engines. Can generate maximum thrust at lower temperatures. It is estimated that the theoretical thrust generated by 1 kg/cesium in outer space is 1100 times greater than that of any solid or liquid fuel. At present, most satellites and spacecraft use such engines.
It is expected that by 2025, more than 2,000 low-orbit satellites will be launched in China, and a considerable number of satellites will use propellants. At the same time, the overseas low-orbit satellite market is in full swing, and it is expected that it is expected to exceed 100,000 in the next ten years, which will greatly increase the demand.