USES OF COPPER: INDUSTRIAL AND COMMERCIAL


Health:

Two radioactive isotopes of copper, copper-64 and copper-67, are used in medicine. The first, copper-64, is used to study brain function and to detect Wilson’s disease. Wilson’s disease occurs when a person cannot eliminate copper from his or her body. Copper-67 treats cancer. When the isotope is injected into the body it goes to cells that are cancerous and gives off radiation that can kill the cancerous cells.

Other Important Copper Compounds:

Copper Sulfate (CuS):

Controls fungal diseases

Used to correct copper deficiency in animals

Stimulates growth for fattening pigs and broiler chickens

Used as a molluscicide to kill slugs and snails

Insecticide

Fungicide
Used to treat arthritis patients in the 19th century

Computers:

Copper is vital for computers to work. Copper is used in building the integrated circuits, chips, and the printed circuit boards of the computer alone. Copper is becoming more and more popular to use in the layers of the build-up of a chip. IBM announced a plan to use copper in its computer chip rather than aluminum. Doing so would make the computer to be cheaper and would allow it to make faster calculations.

Electricity:

Copper is often used as a conductor of electricity. Almost all electrical devices rely on copper wiring because copper is inexpensive and highly conductive. The conductivity of copper is second only to silver. The reason why copper is a good conductor is because there are a lot of free electrons that can carry the flowing current efficiently. These free electrons do not remain permanently associated with the copper atoms, instead they form an electron ‘cloud’ around the outside of the atom and are free to move through the solid quickly.

Currency:

Copper is often used in most currencies around the nations of the world. From 1909 to 1982, the American penny was 95% copper. The other 5% was either zinc or bronze depending on the year. The only exception was 1943. That year the penny had zinc-plated steel in it. Unfortunately, the steel was magnetic and kept getting stuck in vending machines. Also, the zinc corroded easily and was therefore often mistaken for a dime. In the early 1980’s copper increased in value. So in 1982, the United States switched the penny’s core to zinc and coated it with copper.
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