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Copper sulfide is a chemical compound with the formula CuxSy, and describes a family of minerals, synthetic materials and chemicals. These compounds have a wide range of uses in metallurgy, mining, industry and other applications. Copper sulfides are often used as a pigment (e.g. in covellite) and can also be seen as black spots on corroded bronzes. Copper sulfide can be poisonous when ingested, and should be handled carefully to prevent skin contact and ingestion (see poisoning by copper sulfide).
This article provides a short overview of the properties of this chemical compound, including its crystal structure, oxidative behaviour, and reactions with water and oxygen. It also discusses its use in the field of chemistry and as a dyeing agent, and explains why it is more suitable than copper oxide for reducing sulfur dioxide in exhaust gas from coal burning power stations.
A primary advantage of copper sulfide compared with other forms of the metal is that it does not decompose upon melting. However, its reactivity with water and other liquids is quite low.
Mixed copper sulfide (Cu:S) compounds with Cu:S > 1.4 are usually semiconductors and show metallic conductivity at slightly elevated temperatures. These are characterised by alternating layers of monosulfide and disulfide anions, with copper cations distributed over interstitial sites in both trigonal and distorted tetrahedral coordination.
Copper sulfide sorbents may comprise one or more binder materials and/or support materials to enhance its performance as an adsorbent in the removal of heavy metals such as mercury from liquid and gaseous fluid streams. These sorbents can be used to purify wastewater, industrial process gases, hydrocarbon streams such as crude oil and dry natural gas.