Copper's Atomic Structure

Topics: Atom, Periodic table, Atomic orbital Pages: 3 (1343 words) Published: October 24, 2010
Copper is the 29th element in the periodic table, located more specifically at group 11, period 4. Because of its chemical and physical attributes, it is a transition metal, which denotes high boiling and melting points. Both a conductor of heat and electricity, Copper is ductile and malleable. Its symbol “Cu” derives from the Latin cuprum. Copper is also valued for its two-for-one practicality: it is a vital nutrient that has antibacterial properties. Aside from what many people generally know about Copper (the “common knowledge,” so to speak), there is much information regarding its atomic buildup. Every element’s atoms are composed of three main subatomic particles: neutrons, electrons and protons. Located in the atom’s nucleus, protons and neutrons are referred to as nucleons. The electrons rest outside of the nucleus at various energy levels (orbitals). Most of an atom's mass comes from its very small nucleus, whose protons and neutrons each have a mass of approximately 1 u (atomic mass units). Electrons, on the other hand, have a mass of around 0.0005 u – almost negligible compared to the masses of a nucleon. Each subatomic particle carries a specific charge. Electrons are considered negatively charged (-1 unit charge), protons are considered positively charged (+1 unit charge), and neutrons, as their name suggests, remain neutral with 0 unit charge. Copper’s square in the periodic table gives the breakdown regarding the numbers of electrons, protons, and neutrons enclosed in a Copper atom (the table works the same way for all of its elements). The number in the top left corner is the mass number, and it represents the total number of protons and neutrons contained in the nucleus of each atom. While it may be odd to equate nucleon count with mass, remember that one nucleon has a mass of 1 u, so sulfur, with its 16 protons and 16 neutrons, has a mass of 32 – 32 nucleons with a combined mass of 32 u. The number in the lower left corner is the atomic number,...
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