Copper is a soft, flexible metal and an excellent conductor of electricity and heat. Although it is one of the few elements found pure in nature, most of it exists in minerals such as chalcopyrite. Other copper minerals, such as malachite and azurite, are brightly colored. Copper is the only metal that has a reddish color in its pure form. In addition, it is mainly used as wires in electrical equipment. Copper wire wrapped around an iron core and then electrified helps create an electromagnet. Because they can be turned on or off, electromagnets are magnetized at will. They can be much more powerful than normal magnets and lift heavy objects. Pure copper does not oxidize, but over time it reacts with air to form a greenish-gray copper carbonate layer called cardenite. Copper is often mixed with other metals to produce stronger alloys. bronze is an alloy of copper and tin, is more durable than pure copper, and has been used since antiquity. Another alloy, brass, is made of copper and zinc, and is used in musical instruments, such as trumpets.

Summary of properties (Cu)

Atomic weight63.546(3)
Discoverer (year)desconocido (1751)
Natural formmetallic solid (face centered cubic)
Electron configuration[Ar] 3d10 4s1
Melting point (ºC)1083
Boiling point (ºC)2567
Abundance in earth's crust (ppm)60
Isotope (abundance)63Cu (69.15), 65Cu (30.85)
Density g/cm38.96
Van der Waals radius (pm)196
Covalent radius (pm)122
Electronegativity (Pauling)1.65
Vaporization enthalpy (kJ/mol)304.60
Enthalpy of fusion (kJ/mol)13.26
Specific heat capacity (J/g·K) at 25ºC and 1 atm0.39
Thermal conductivity (W/cm·K) at 25ºC and 1 atm4.010
Oxidation state+2, +1
Electron affinity (eV)1.24
1st Ionization potential (eV)7.7264

Back to the Periodic Table of the Elements.