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29 nickelcopperzinc


periodic table
Name, Symbol, Number copper, Cu, 29
Chemical series transition metals
Group, Period, Block 11, 4, d
Appearance metallic brown
Atomic mass 63.546 (3) g/mol
Electron configuration [Ar] 3d10 4s1
Electrons per shell 2, 8, 18, 1
Physical properties
Phase solid
Density (near r.t.) 8.96 g/cm³
Liquid density at m.p. 8.02 g/cm³
Melting point 1357.77 K
(1084.62 ° C, 1984.32 ° F)
Boiling point 2835 K
(2562 ° C, 4643 ° F)
Heat of fusion 13.26 kJ/mol
Heat of vaporization 300.4 kJ/mol
Heat capacity (25 °C) 24.440 J/(mol·K)
Vapor pressure
P/Pa 1 10 100 1 k 10 k 100 k
at T/K 1509 1661 1850 2089 2404 2836
Atomic properties
Crystal structure cubic face centered
Oxidation states 2, 1
(mildly basic oxide)
Electronegativity 1.90 ( Pauling scale)
Ionization energies
( more)
1st: 745.5 kJ/mol
2nd: 1957.9 kJ/mol
3rd: 3555 kJ/mol
Atomic radius 135 pm
Atomic radius (calc.) 145 pm
Covalent radius 138 pm
Van der Waals radius 140 pm
Magnetic ordering diamagnetic
Electrical resistivity (20 °C) 16.78 nΩ·m
Thermal conductivity (300 K) 401 W/(m·K)
Thermal expansion (25 °C) 16.5 µm/(m·K)
Speed of sound (thin rod) ( r.t.) (annealed)
3810 m/s
Young's modulus 130 GPa
Shear modulus 48 GPa
Bulk modulus 140 GPa
Poisson ratio 0.34
Mohs hardness 3.0
Vickers hardness 369 MPa
Brinell hardness 874 MPa
CAS registry number 7440-50-8
Notable isotopes
Main article: Isotopes of copper
iso NA half-life DM DE ( MeV) DP
63Cu 69.17% Cu is stable with 34 neutrons
65Cu 30.83% Cu is stable with 36 neutrons
Copper is a chemical element in the periodic table that has the symbol Cu and atomic number 29.

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Notable characteristics
Copper mining
Biological role

Notable characteristics - Contents

Copper is a reddish-colored metal, with a high electrical and thermal conductivity (among pure metals at room temperature, only silver has a higher electrical conductivity). Copper has its characteristic colour because it reflects red and orange light and absorbs other frequencies in the visible spectrum, due to its band structure. Contrast this with the optical properties of silver, gold and aluminium.Copper is insoluble in water (H2O) as well as isopropanol, or isopropyl alcohol.There are two stable isotopes, 63Cu and 65Cu, along with a couple of dozen radioisotopes. The vast majority of radioisotopes have half lives on the order of minutes or less; the longest lived, 64Cu, has a half life of 12.7 hours, with two decay modes, leading to two separate products.There are numerous alloys of copper— speculum metal is a copper/tin alloy, brass is a copper/zinc alloy, and bronze is a copper/tin alloy. Monel metal is a copper/ nickel alloy, also called cupronickel.

Applications - Contents

Copper is malleable and ductile, and is used extensively, in products such as:
  • Copper wire.
  • Copper plumbing.
  • Doorknobs and other fixtures in houses.
  • Statuary: The Statue of Liberty, for example, contains 179,200 pounds (81.3 tonnes) of copper.
  • Electromagnets.
  • Electrical machines, especially electromagnetic motors and generators.
  • Watt's steam engine.
  • Electrical relays, electrical busbars and electrical switches.
  • Vacuum tubes, cathode ray tubes, and the magnetrons in microwave ovens.
  • Wave guides for microwave radiation.
  • There is increasing use of copper in integrated circuits, replacing aluminium because of its superior conductivity.
  • Alloyed with nickel, e.g. cupronickel and Monel, used as corrosive resistant materials in shipbuilding.
  • As a component of coins, often as cupronickel alloy.
  • In cookware, such as frying pans.
  • Most flatware ( knives, forks, spoons) contains some copper ( nickel silver).
  • Sterling silver, if it is to be used in dinnerware, must contain a few percent copper.
  • As a component in ceramic glazes, and to colour glass.
  • Musical instruments, especially brass instruments.
  • As a biostatic surface in hospitals, and to line parts of ships to protect against barnacles and mussels, originally used pure, but superseded by Muntz Metal. Bacteria will not grow on a copper surface because it is biostatic. Copper doorknobs are used by hospitals to reduce the transfer of disease, and Legionnaire's Disease is supressed by copper tubing in air-conditioning systems.
  • Compounds, such as Fehling's solution, have applications in chemistry.
  • Copper(II) sulfate is used as a poison and a water purifier. It is used in gardening powders and sprays to kill mildew.
  • As a material in the manufacture of computer heatsinks, as a result of its superior heat dissipation capacity to aluminium.
  • Copper was sometimes used by the Inuit to make the cutting blade for ulu's.

History - Contents

In Greek times, the metal was known by the name chalkos (χαλκός). Copper was a very important resource for the Romans and Greeks. In Roman times, it became known as aes Cyprium (aes being the generic Latin term for copper alloys such as bronze and other metals, and Cyprium because so much of it was mined in Cyprus). From this, the phrase was simplified to cuprum and then eventually Anglicized into the English copper.Copper was known to some of the oldest civilizations on record, and has a history of use that is at least 10,000 years old. A copper pendant was found in what is now northern Iraq that dates to 8700 BC. By 5000 BC, there are signs of copper smelting, the refining of copper from simple copper oxides such as malachite or azurite. The earliest signs of gold use, by contrast, appear around 4000 BC.
Ancient Copper ingot from Zakros, Crete. The ingot is shaped in the form of an animal skin, a typical shape of copper ingots from these times.
Ancient Copper ingot from Zakros, Crete. The ingot is shaped in the form of an animal skin, a typical shape of copper ingots from these times.
There are copper and bronze artifacts from Sumerian cities that date to 3000 BC, and Egyptian artifacts in copper and copper alloyed with tin nearly as old. In one pyramid, a copper plumbing system was found that is 5000 years old.The Egyptians found that adding a small amount of tin made the metal easier to cast, so bronze alloys were found in Egypt almost as soon as copper was found. Use of copper in ancient China dates to at least 2000 BC. By 1200 BC excellent bronzes were being made in China. Note that these dates are affected by wars and conquest, as copper is easily melted down and reused. In Europe, Oetzi the Iceman, a well-preserved male dated to 3200 BC, was found with a copper-tipped axe whose metal was 99.7% pure. High levels of arsenic in his hair suggests he was involved in copper smelting.The use of bronze was so pervasive in a certain era of civilization that it has been named the Bronze Age. The transitional period in certain regions between the preceding Neolithic period and the Bronze Age is termed the Chalcolithic, with some high-purity copper tools being used alongside stone tools.
Alchemical symbol for copper
Alchemical symbol for copper
Brass, an alloy of zinc and copper, was known to the Greeks but first used extensively by the Romans.Copper was associated with the goddess Aphrodite/ Venus in mythology and alchemy, owing to its lustrous beauty, its ancient use in producing mirrors, and its association with Cyprus, which was sacred to the goddess.In alchemy the symbol for copper was also the symbol for the planet Venus.

Copper mining - Contents

The main copper-ore producing coutries are Australia, Canada, Chile, China, Mexico, Russia, Peru, Indonesia and the United States.
West Mine at Alderley Edge
West Mine at Alderley Edge
Copper has been mined for many centuries. By 2000 BC, Europe was using copper-tin alloys or ‘bronze’. The Bronze Age is taken as 2500 BC to 600 BC. During the Bronze age, copper was mined mainly in the following locations:
  • South West County Cork
  • West Wales (e.g. Cwmwystwyth)
  • North Wales (e.g. Great Orme)
  • Anglesey (Parys Mountain)
  • Cheshire (Alderley Edge)
  • Derbyshire (e.g. Ecton Mine)
  • Isle of Man.
At Great Orme in North Wales, such working extended for a depth of 70 metres (ref: O’Brien, W., Bronze Age Copper Mining in Britain and Ireland) At Alderley Edge in Cheshire, carbon dates have established mining at around 2280 - 1890 BC (at 95% probability) (ref: Timberlake and Prag, 2005).

Copper Mining in Ireland
Copper Mining in Ireland can be traced back to 1700 BC at Mount Gabriel in County Cork. As with all mining in Ireland, deposits were worked intermittently, two primary factors determining the extent of working:
  • the price obtainable for ore,
  • the development of processes that would make previously uneconomic rock to be mined for ore extraction.
The last active copper mining in Ireland took place at Avoca in County Wicklow, ending in 1982.

Biological role - Contents

Copper is essential in all higher plants and animals. Copper is carried mostly in the bloodstream on a plasma protein called ceruloplasmin. When copper is first absorbed in the gut it is transported to the liver bound to albumin. Copper is found in a variety of enzymes, including the copper centers of cytochrome c oxidase and the enzyme superoxide dismutase (containing copper and zinc), and is the central metal in the oxygen-carrying pigment hemocyanin. The blood of the horseshoe crab, Limulus polyphemus, uses copper rather than iron for oxygen transport. [1]It is believed that zinc and copper compete for absorption in the digestive tract so that a diet that is excessive in one of these minerals may result in a deficiency in the other. The RDA for copper in normal healthy adults is 0.9 mg/day.

All copper compounds, unless otherwise known, should be treated as if they were toxic. Thirty grams of copper sulfate is potentially lethal in humans. The suggested safe level of copper in drinking water for humans varies depending on the source, but tends to be pegged at 1.5 to 2 mg/L. The DRI Tolerable Upper Intake Level for adults of dietary copper from all sources is 10 mg/day. In toxicity, copper can inhibit the enzyme dihydrophil hydratase, an enzyme involved in haemopoiesis.An inherited condition called Wilson's disease causes the body to retain copper, since it is not excreted by the liver into the bile. This disease, if untreated, can lead to brain and liver damage. In addition, studies have found that people with mental illnesses such as schizophrenia had heightened levels of copper in their systems. However it is unknown at this stage whether the copper contributes to the mental illness, whether the body attempts to store more copper in response to the illness, or whether the high levels of copper are the result of the mental illness.
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