copper


copper
copper1
/kop"euhr/, n.
1. a malleable, ductile, metallic element having a characteristic reddish-brown color: used in large quantities as an electrical conductor and in the manufacture of alloys, as brass and bronze. Symbol: Cu; at. wt.: 63.54; at. no.: 29; sp. gr.: 8.92 at 20°C.
2. a metallic reddish brown.
3. a coin composed of copper, bronze, or the like, as the U.S. cent or the British penny.
4. any of several butterflies of the family Lycaenidae, as Lycaena hypophleas (American copper), having copper-colored wings spotted and edged with black.
5. a container made of copper.
6. a tool partly or wholly made of copper: a soldering copper.
7. Brit. a large kettle, now usually made of iron, used for cooking or to boil laundry.
adj.
8. made of copper: copper kettles.
9. reddish-brown; coppery: The copper sun sank into the sea.
v.t.
10. to cover, coat, or sheathe with copper.
11. Informal. hedge (def. 6).
[bef. 1000; ME coper, OE coper, copor (c. ON koparr, G Kupfer) < LL cuprum, for L (aes) Cyprium CYPRIAN (metal)]
copper2
/kop"euhr/, n. Slang.
a police officer.
[1840-50, Amer.; perh. COP1 + -ER1]

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I
Metallic chemical element, one of the transition elements, chemical symbol Cu, atomic number 29.

Sometimes found in the free state in nature, it is a reddish metal, very ductile and an unusually good conductor of electricity and heat. Most of the world's copper production is used by the electrical industries; the remainder is combined with other metals (e.g., zinc, tin, nickel) to form alloys such as brass, bronze, nickel silver, and Monel. Copper is part of nearly all coinage metals. In compounds copper usually has valence 1 (cuprous) or 2 (cupric). Cuprous compounds include cuprous oxide, a red pigment and a fungicide; cuprous chloride, a catalyst for certain organic reactions; and cuprous sulfide, with a variety of uses. Cupric compounds include cupric oxide, a pigment, decolorizing agent, and catalyst; cupric chloride, a catalyst, wood preservative, mordant, disinfectant, feed additive, and pigment; and cupric sulfate, a pesticide, germicide, feed additive, and soil additive. Copper is a necessary trace element in the human diet and essential to plant growth; in blue-blooded mollusks and crustaceans it plays the same role in hemocyanin as iron does in hemoglobin.

Crystalline copper from Michigan

By courtesy of Ted Boente Collection; photograph, John H. Gerard
II
(as used in expressions)

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Introduction
  chemical element, reddish, extremely ductile metal of Group 11 (Ib) of the periodic table, unusually good conductor of electricity and heat. Copper is found in the free metallic state in nature; this native copper was first used (c. 8000 BC) as a substitute for stone by Neolithic man. Metallurgy dawned in Egypt as copper was cast to shape in molds (c. 4000 BC), was reduced to metal from ores with fire and charcoal, and was intentionally alloyed with tin as bronze (c. 3500 BC). The Roman supply of copper came almost entirely from Cyprus; it was known as aes Cyprium, “metal of Cyprus,” shortened to cyprium and later corrupted to cuprum. See also bronze.

Occurrence, uses, and properties
      Native copper is found at many locations as a primary mineral in basaltic lavas and also as reduced from copper compounds, such as sulfides, arsenides, chlorides, and carbonates. The greatest known deposit of copper is in porphyries formed by volcanic activity in the Andean Mountains of Chile. (For mineralogical properties, see native elements (native element) [table].) Copper occurs combined in many minerals, such as chalcocite, chalcopyrite, bornite, cuprite, malachite, and azurite. It is present in the ashes of seaweeds, in many sea corals, in the human liver, and in many mollusks and arthropods. Copper plays the same role of oxygen transport in the hemocyanin of blue-blooded mollusks and crustaceans as iron does in the hemoglobin of red-blooded animals. The copper present in humans as a trace element helps catalyze hemoglobin formation.

       Copper CopperCopper is commercially produced mainly by smelting or leaching, usually followed by electrodeposition from sulfate solutions. For a detailed treatment of the production of copper, see copper processing.

      The major portion of copper produced in the world is used by the electrical industries; most of the remainder is combined with other metals to form alloys (alloy). (It is also technologically important as an electroplated coating.) Important series of alloys in which copper is the chief constituent are brasses (copper and zinc), bronzes (copper and tin), and nickel silvers (copper, zinc, and nickel, no silver). There are many useful alloys of copper and nickel, including Monel; the two metals are completely miscible. Copper also forms an important series of alloys with aluminum, called aluminum bronzes. beryllium copper (2 percent Be) is an unusual copper alloy in that it can be hardened by heat treatment. Copper is a part of nearly all coinage metals. Long after the Bronze Age passed into the Iron Age, copper remained the metal second in use and importance to iron; but, by the 1960s, cheaper and much more plentiful aluminum had moved into second place in world production.

      Copper is one of the most ductile metals, not especially strong or hard. Strength and hardness are appreciably increased by cold-working because of the formation of elongated crystals of the same face-centred cubic structure that is present in the softer annealed copper. Common gases, such as oxygen, nitrogen, carbon dioxide, and sulfur dioxide are soluble in molten copper and greatly affect the mechanical and electrical properties of the solidified metal. The pure metal is second only to silver in thermal and electrical conductivity. Natural copper is a mixture of two stable isotopes: copper-63 (69.17 percent) and copper-65 (30.83 percent).

      Because copper lies below hydrogen in the electromotive series, it is not soluble in acids with the evolution of hydrogen, though it will react with oxidizing acids, such as nitric and hot, concentrated sulfuric acid. Copper resists the action of the atmosphere and seawater; exposure for long periods to air, however, results in the formation of a thin green protective coating (patina) that is a mixture of hydroxocarbonate, hydroxosulfate, and small amounts of other compounds. Copper is a moderately noble metal, being unaffected by nonoxidizing or noncomplexing dilute acids in the absence of air; it will, however, dissolve readily in nitric acid and in sulfuric acid in the presence of oxygen. It is also soluble in aqueous ammonia or potassium cyanide in the presence of oxygen because of the formation of very stable cyano complexes upon dissolution. The metal will react at red heat with oxygen to give cupric oxide, CuO, and, at higher temperatures, cuprous oxide, Cu2O. It reacts on heating with sulfur to give cuprous sulfide, Cu2S.

Principal compounds
      Copper forms compounds in the oxidation states +1 and +2 in its normal chemistry, although under special circumstances some compounds of trivalent copper can be prepared. It has been shown that trivalent copper survives no more than a few seconds in an aqueous solution.

      Copper(I) (cuprous) compounds are all diamagnetic and, with few exceptions, colourless. Among the important industrial compounds of copper(I) are cuprous oxide (Cu2O), cuprous chloride (Cu2Cl2), and cuprous sulfide (Cu2S). Cuprous oxide is a red or reddish brown crystal or powder that occurs in nature as the mineral cuprite. It is produced on a large scale by reduction of mixed copper oxide ores with copper metal or by electrolysis of an aqueous solution of sodium chloride using copper electrodes. The pure compound is insoluble in water but soluble in hydrochloric acid or ammonia. Cuprous oxide is used principally as a red pigment for antifouling paints, glasses, porcelain glazes, and ceramics and as a seed or crop fungicide.

      Cuprous chloride is a whitish to grayish solid that occurs as the mineral nantokite. It is usually prepared by reduction of copper(II) chloride with metallic copper. The pure compound is stable in dry air; moist air converts it to a greenish oxygenated compound, and upon exposure to light it is transformed into copper(II) chloride. It is insoluble in water but dissolves in concentrated hydrochloric acid or in ammonia because of the formation of complex ions. Cuprous chloride is used as a catalyst in a number of organic reactions, notably the synthesis of acrylonitrile from acetylene and hydrogen cyanide; as a decolourizing and desulfurizing agent for petroleum products; as a denitrating agent for cellulose; and as a condensing agent for soaps, fats, and oils.

      Cuprous sulfide occurs in the form of black powder or lumps and is found as the mineral chalcocite. Large quantities of the compound are obtained by heating cupric sulfide (CuS) in a stream of hydrogen. Cuprous sulfide is insoluble in water but soluble in ammonium hydroxide and nitric acid. Its applications include use in solar cells, luminous paints, electrodes, and certain varieties of solid lubricants.

      Copper(II) compounds of commercial value include cupric oxide (CuO), cupric chloride (CuCl2), and cupric sulfate (CuSO4). Cupric oxide is a black powder that occurs as the minerals tenorite and paramelaconite. Large amounts are produced by roasting mixed copper oxide ores in a furnace at a temperature below 1,030° C (1,900° F). The pure compound can be dissolved in acids and alkali cyanides. Cupric oxide is employed as a pigment (blue to green) for glasses, porcelain glazes, and artificial gems. It is also used as a desulfurizing agent for petroleum gases and as an oxidation catalyst.

      Cupric chloride is a yellowish to brown powder that readily absorbs moisture from the air and turns into the greenish blue hydrate, CuCl2∙2H2O. The hydrate is commonly prepared by passing chlorine and water in a contacting tower packed with metallic copper. The anhydrous salt is obtained by heating the hydrate to 100° C (212° F). Like cuprous chloride, cupric chloride is used as a catalyst in a number of organic reactions—e.g., in chlorination of hydrocarbons. In addition, it serves as a wood preservative, mordant (fixative) in the dyeing and printing of fabrics, disinfectant, feed additive, and pigment for glass and ceramics.

      Cupric sulfate is a salt formed by treating cupric oxide with sulfuric acid. It forms as large, bright-blue crystals containing five molecules of water (CuSO4∙5H2O) and is known in commerce as blue vitriol. The anhydrous salt is produced by heating the hydrate to 150° C (300° F). Cupric sulfate is utilized chiefly for agricultural purposes, as a pesticide, germicide, feed additive, and soil additive. Among its minor uses are as a raw material in the preparation of other copper compounds, reagent in analytic chemistry, electrolyte for batteries and electroplating baths, and in medicine as a locally applied fungicide, bactericide, and astringent.

      Other important copper(II) compounds include cupric carbonate [Cu2(OH)2CO3], which is prepared by adding sodium carbonate to a solution of copper sulfate and then filtering and drying the product. It is used as a colouring agent; with arsenic it forms cupric acetoarsenite (commonly known as Paris green), a wood preservative and insecticide.

atomic number
29
atomic weight
63.546
melting point
1,083° C (1,981° F)
boiling point
2,567° C (4,653° F)
density
8.96 (20° C)
valence
1, 2
electronic config.
2-8-18-1 or (Ar)3d104s1

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Universalium. 2010.

Synonyms:
/ , / , (esp. in a ship's kitchen)


Look at other dictionaries:

  • copper(I) — copper(I) …   English syllables

  • copper(II) — copper(II) …   English syllables

  • Copper — Cop per, n. [OE. coper (cf. D. koper, Sw. koppar, Dan. kobber, G. kupfer), LL. cuper, fr. L. cuprum for earlier Cyprium, Cyprium aes, i.e., Cyprian brass, fr. Gr. ? of Cyprus (Gr. ?), anciently renowned for its copper mines. Cf. {Cypreous}.] 1. A …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • copper — copper1 [käp′ər] n. pl. copper or coppers [ME & OE coper < LL cuprum, contr. < Cyprium ( aes), Cyprian (brass), copper, after Gr Kyprios,CYPRUS, noted for its copper mines] 1. a reddish brown, malleable, ductile, metallic element that is… …   English World dictionary

  • COPPER —    Copper was the first metal humans learned to work with. The earliest evidence comes from Cayonu in southeast Turkey (late ninth or early eighth millennium B.C.), where small items of jewelry were made from cold hammered nuggets. Large scale… …   Historical Dictionary of Mesopotamia

  • copper — Ⅰ. copper [1] ► NOUN 1) a red brown metallic chemical element which is used for electrical wiring and as a component of brass and bronze. 2) (coppers) Brit. coins of low value made of copper or bronze. 3) Brit. dated a large copper or iron… …   English terms dictionary

  • Copper — Cop per, v. t. [imp. & p. p. {Coppered}; p. pr. & vb. n. {Coppering}.] To cover or coat with copper; to sheathe with sheets of copper; as, to copper a ship. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Copper — (englisch für „Kupfer“) steht für: Amiga Copper, Koprozessor der Amiga Computer Copper River (Alaska) Copper River (Wisconsin) Diese Seite ist eine Begriffsklärung zur Unterscheidung mehrerer mit demselb …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • copper — cop‧per [ˈkɒpə ǁ ˈkɑːpər] noun 1. [uncountable] a reddish brown metal used, among other things, for making wire and cable S: • On Friday, copper for March delivery ended at 98.9 cents a pound, up 1.9 cents. • The company is a major producer of… …   Financial and business terms

  • copper — Symbol: Cu Atomic number: 29 Atomic weight: 63.54 Red brown transition element. Known by the Romans as cuprum. Extracted and used for thousands of years. Malleable, ductile and an excellent conductor of heat and electricity. When in moist… …   Elements of periodic system

  • Copper — For other uses, see Copper (disambiguation) …   Wikipedia


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