A white precipitate of Copper(I) Chloride suspended in a solution of Ascorbic Acid in a 2 dram vial.
IR absorption spectrum of copper(I) chloride
Copper(I) chloride, commonly called cuprous chloride, is the lower chloride of copper, with the formula CuCl. The substance is a white solid sparingly soluble in water, but very soluble in concentrated hydrochloric acid. Impure samples appear green due to the presence of copper(II) chloride (CuCl2).
In 1799, J.L. Proust characterized the two different chlorides of copper. He prepared CuCl by heating CuCl2 at red heat in the absence of air, causing it to lose half of its combined chlorine followed by removing residual CuCl2 by washing with water.
An acidic solution of CuCl was formerly used for analysis of carbon monoxide content in gases, for example in Hempel's gas apparatus. This application was significant during the time that coal gas was widely used for heating and lighting, during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
Copper(I) chloride is produced industrially by the direct combination of copper metal and chlorine at 450–900 °C:
Copper(I) chloride can also be prepared by reducing copper(II) chloride, e.g. with sulfur dioxide or a reducing sugar such as Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C):
Copper(I) chloride has the cubic zincblende crystal structure at ambient conditions. Upon heating to 408 °C the structure changes to hexagonal. Several other crystalline forms of CuCl appear at high pressures (several GPa).
In absence of other ligands, its aqueous solutions are unstable with respect to disproportionation into Cu and CuCl2. In part for this reason samples in air assume a green coloration (see photograph in upper right).
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