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copper 1 arsenide is an amorphous crystalline solid and a rare mineral. It has applications in semiconductors, laser and light-emitting diodes, quantum dots, and optical and pressure sensors.


Arsenical copper alloys are rare, but they provide a unique record of natural processes in the history of the Earth. They are often associated with ancient and prehistoric artifacts, which have a variety of important properties.

Archaeological materials present unique records that allow us to study long-term material behaviors such as structural aging and degradation mechanisms. These investigations are important for identifying the original physical and chemical properties of copper and arsenic.

The crystallographic and microscopic characterisation of four prehistoric archaeological artifacts containing copper arsenide have been carried out. Analyses were conducted using micro-energy dispersive X-ray fluorescence spectrometry, optical microscopy, scanning electron microscopy with X-ray microanalysis, and synchrotron radiation micro-X-ray diffraction.

Amorphous Cu3As is present in a majority of our analyzed archaeological artifacts, although it is not the only phase. The occurrence of this cubic arsenide in these artifacts is consistent with the hypothesis that the structure was precipitated due to long-term aging at room temperature.

The compound is a trigonal (D;,,, P%1) with a = 7.132 and c = 7.304 A a t x 0. It melts incongruently a t 700″ C and decomposes a t 300deg C to a solid solution of arsenic and copper anions. The diffraction pattern is identical to that of algodonite. The unit cell dimensions are not sensitive to the total alloy composition, and thus the homogeneity limit appears quite narrow under normal conditions.