The Advantages of Copper
Copper is one of the most widely used metals in the world, and for good reason too. This reddish-brown metal is highly versatile and advantageous for a wide variety of applications. Find out more about the different properties of copper below.
1. High Thermal and Electrical Conductivity
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Copper is characterised by its high thermal and electrical conductivity – silver is the only other pure metal to have a higher electrical conductivity at room temperature. This is because copper has a single valence electron that is free to move with little resistance, thereby facilitating the conduction of electricity. Such properties make copper the metal of choice for use in electrical wiring, circuit boards and heat sinks.
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Copper is also ductile, that is, it can be drawn out into a wire. A copper bar 4 inches thick can be heated, rolled, then drawn into a wire thinner than a human hair! This makes it ideal for making electrical wires. Furthermore, copper is easily obtainable and a cheaper resource compared to silver, despite its electrical conductivity.
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Malleability, or the ability to bend or be hammered into other shapes without breaking, is another characteristic of copper. Pure copper is very soft and malleable, as the covalent bonds in copper are relatively weak. Copper’s malleability is the key reason why it is highly versatile and ideal for various applications – for example, in making copper sheets, coins and utensils.
4. Resistance to Corrosion
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Copper is highly valued for its corrosion-resistant properties. Copper does not rust; instead, it will change from its usual reddish-orange colour to a reddish-brown. Eventually, it is coated with a green film, or patina, that stops all further corrosion. Because it doesn’t tarnish easily, copper is highly durable and commonly used for making items such as coins.