Periodic Table -> Copper


Copper Details

Copper Symbol: Cu

Copper Atomic Number: 29

Copper Atomic Weight: 63.54

What is Copper?

Copper (symbol Cu, number 29) is a stretchable metal that is extremely conductive when it comes to heat and electricity. Pure copper is malleable and reddish-orange in color. Copper is often used in construction and is part of a number of different metal alloys. Copper has been used since antiquity, both on its own and in alloys. In Roman times, this metal was mined chiefly on the island of Cyprus and used to be called cyprium. In ancient times, bronze was used to make ornamental items, containers, weapons, and tools. Brass, which contains zinc and copper, was used as far back as 2,500 years ago. The Romans used brass extensively to make ornamental objects, kettles, and coins. Today, it is used in the production of objects, which should resist corrosion, such as screws, musical instruments, and different hardware.

The compounds of copper give blue or green tinges to semi-precious stones and minerals like turquoise and have been used as pigments throughout history. Copper is frequently used in decorative art as well, both as part of pigments and on its own. Buildings are constructed with copper to obtain what is known as patina when copper, bronze, or brass structures are exposed to air and water (rain) for some time. This patina is also known as verdigris. It is green in color and very pretty.

All the ions of copper are soluble in water. In small amounts they can function to prevent fungi and as wood preservatives. In large amounts they can be very dangerous to humans and animals. In smaller amounts, they are necessary for the survival of all higher plant and animal life. Copper can be found in animal tissues, liver, muscles, and bones.

Copper is used in electric wires, roofing, plumbing, industrial machinery, and more. Being highly conductive, copper is used to make copper wires and electric magnets. Copper is used instead of aluminum in circuit boards because it is more conductive. It is often used in cathode ray tubes, vacuum tubes, and microwave ovens. Roofs of buildings are also often made of copper because it is waterproof.

Lightning rods are made of copper so that electric current passes through the ground instead of the building, which it would destroy if it did. It is easy to weld copper; the best way to do this is through gas metal arc welding.

There are many copper alloys. One example is brass. Copper is an important component of gold and carat silver alloys. It is frequently used in the jewelry business to change the melting point, hardness, and color of the resulting compounds.

The best known compound of copper is hydrated copper sulfate. Also called blue vitrol, this compound is used in water purification, as an agricultural poison, and as a blue pigment. Another compound of copper, cuperic chloride is used for fixing dyes to fabrics. Copper cyanide is yet another compound, which is used in electroplating.

Copper resists corrosion from seawater, moisture, and air, and is widely used in the mintage of coins. American pennies were made from copper in the past, but today zinc is coated with copper. The US 5-cent coin is three-quarters copper and one-quarter nickel. It is called a nickel erroneously.

Copper is known to destroy many microorganisms, like the E. coli bacteria, Staphylococcus aureus, influenza A virus, fungi, etc.

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