Why is copper called copper

Name, symbol, atomic number Copper, Cu, 29
seriesTransition metals
Group, period, block11, 4, d
Look salmon pink, metallic
Mass fraction of the earth's envelope 0,01 %
Atomic mass 63,546 u
Atomic radius (calculated) 135 (145) pm
Covalent radius 138 pm
Van der Waals radius 140 pm
Electron configuration [Ar] 3d104s1
Electrons per energy level 2, 8, 18, 1
Work function 4.44 eV
1. Ionization energy 745.5 kJ / mol
2. Ionization energy 1957.9 kJ / mol
3. Ionization energy 3555 kJ / mol
4. Ionization energy 5536 kJ / mol
Physical state firmly
Crystal structure Cubic area-centered
density 8.92 g / cm3
Mohs hardness 3,0
Melting point 1357.6 K (1084.4 ° C)
boiling point 2840 K (2567 ° C)
Molar volume 7,11 · 10-6 m3/ mol
Heat of evaporation 300.3 kJ / mol
Heat of fusion 13.05 kJ / mol
Vapor pressure

0.0505 Pa at 1358 K

Speed ​​of sound 3570 m / s at 293.15 K.
Specific heat capacity 385 J / (kg K)
Electric conductivity 58 · 106S / m
Thermal conductivity 401 W / (m K)
Oxidation states 1, 2
Oxides (basicity) Cu2O (copper (I) oxide), CuO (copper (II) oxide) (slightly basic)
Normal potential 0.342 V (Cu2+ + 2e- → Cu)
Electronegativity 1.9 (Pauling scale)
isotopeNHt1/2ZMZE MeVZP


3.333 hε2,23761Ni


9.74 minε3,94862Ni

69,17 %



12.7 hε1,67564Ni

30,83 %



5.088 minβ2,64266Zn


61.83 hβ0,57767Zn
NMR properties
  Spinγ in
rad · T−1· S−1
E. fL. at
W = 4.7 T
in MHz
63Cu 3/2 7,09 · 107 0,0931 53
65Cu3/2 7,596 · 1070,114 56,8
safety instructions
Hazardous substance labeling
R and S phrases R: no R-phrases
S: no S-phrases
As far as possible and customary, SI units are used.
Unless otherwise noted, the data given apply to standard conditions.

copper (lat. Cuprum) is a chemical element with the symbol Cu and the atomic number 29. It is a metal of the 4th period in the 11th group in the periodic table. The Latin name cuprum is derived from aes cyprium "Ore from the island of Cyprus", where copper was mined in ancient times.

As a relatively soft metal, copper is easy to shape and tough. As an excellent conductor of heat and electricity, copper is used in many ways and also belongs to the group of coin metals.

As a weakly reactive heavy metal, copper is one of the precious metals.



Copper, gold, silver and tin were the first metals that mankind got to know in their development. Because copper is easy to work with, it was used by the oldest known cultures around 10,000 years ago. The time of its widespread use from the 5th millennium BC. Until the 3rd millennium BC BC is sometimes also called the Copper Age. In alchemy, copper was associated with Venus / femininity ♀, certainly not least because the first mirrors were made from this metal.

Later it was alloyed with tin and lead to make bronze. This harder and technically more resistant alloy gave its name to the Bronze Age. The distinction between lead and tin was only introduced with increasing knowledge of metals, so that from today's perspective the term bronze is only correctly applied to tin-copper alloys with a high copper content.

The golden yellow copper-zinc alloy "brass" was already known in ancient Greece. It was smelted by processing the respective ores together, but it was only the Romans who made increasing use of this process. The gold-copper alloy Tumbaga was widely used in ancient Colombia.



Copper sometimes occurs in nature as a dignified element, mainly in basaltic lavas. It usually occurs as a nugget (solidified from the melt) or in branched structures, so-called dendrites, rarely also in crystalline form. The proportion of native copper in nature is, however, very low.

Copper ores, on the other hand, are common. This is how copper is made from chalcopyrite (copper pyrites) (CuFeS2), Chalcosine (copper luster) (Cu2S), more rarely also from bornite (Cu5FeS4), Atacamite [CuCl2 • Cu (OH)2], Malachite and other ores.

The world's largest deposits are in Chile (Chuquicamata), the USA, Russia, Zambia (Copperbelt), Canada and Peru.

See also: Copper mining

The states with the greatest funding

See also: List of the largest copper producers
rank country Delivery rates
(in 1000 t)
1 Chile 4620
2 Indonesia 1167
3 United States 1140
4 Australia 876
5 Russian Federation 844
6 Peru 843
7 Canada 577
8 Poland 572
9 China 554
10 Kazakhstan 432
rank country Delivery rates
(in 1000 t)
11 Zambia 336
12 Mexico 315
13 Argentina 218
14 Papua New Guinea 211
15 South Africa 130
16 Mongolia 120
17 Bulgaria 108
18 India 79
19 Portugal 77
20 Sweden 72


The most important copper-producing country is by far Chile, followed by Indonesia and the USA. In Europe we should mention Poland and also Portugal and Sweden. The most important export countries are organized in the CIPEC. CIPEC includes, among others. Australia, Indonesia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Papua New Guinea, on whose island of Bougainville one of the world's largest copper mines led to a civil war in 1988, the consequences of which are still ongoing.

The copper mines on the Keweenaw Peninsula in Lake Superior / USA were historically significant (the world's largest deposit of native copper; extraction already in pre-Columbian times). In Germany, copper shale was mined in the Mansfeld region until 1990.



Copper pyrites (CuFeS2) initially so-called Copper stone (Cu2S with varying contents of FeS, Cu content approx. 70%). For this purpose, the starting material is roasted with the addition of coke and the iron oxides contained are slagged with silica-containing aggregates. This iron silicate slag floats on the copper stone and can thus be easily poured off.

The copper stone thus obtained becomes to Raw copper (also black copper, Cu content approx. 98%) further processed. To do this, it is poured into a converter and air is blown into this melt. In a first stage (Slag bubbles) The iron sulphide contained in it is roasted to form iron oxide and this is bound by slagged quartz to form slag, which can be poured off. In a second step (Cooking bubbles) become two thirds of the remaining Cu2S to Cu2O oxidized. The oxide then reacts with the remaining sulfide to form raw copper.

The raw copper (also called "cement copper") is now electrolytically cleaned. The impure copper forms the anode, from there the copper migrates as an ion through the electrolyte to the cathode and is there as Electrolytic copper deposited with a Cu content of 99.99%, d. H. with only very small admixtures of other substances. The less noble metals in these admixtures remain dissolved in the electrolyte, the more noble metals (including silver and gold) form the "electrolyte sludge" and are processed separately.

The extraction of copper takes place in an affinerie, in Germany the Norddeutsche Affinerie in Hamburg is known for this, in former times it was also the Duisburger Kupferhütte (today DK Recycling).


Physical Properties

With a density of 8920 kg / m3 Copper is one of the heavy metals, its melting point is 1083.4 ° C. It crystallizes in the face centered cubic (fcc) crystal system (Cu type) and has a Mohs hardness between 2.5 and 3. Copper conducts electricity very well (58106 S / m). It is therefore only slightly worse than silver and significantly more conductive than gold. In addition, copper is a very good conductor of heat.

However, aluminum is a better electrical conductor than copper per gram of weight. However, it is more voluminous than copper, so that copper conducts electricity better than aluminum per square centimeter of cable cross-section. Because copper is less reactive than aluminum and it is easier to process than aluminum, copper is mostly used and aluminum only when weight matters.