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Copper chloride, also known as cupric chloride and as the common mineral eriochalcite, is a yellowish-brown solid that slowly absorbs water to form a blue-green dihydrate. It is soluble in cold water and alcohol and may be dehydrated by heating under vacuum. It is a precursor to many copper compounds, and reacts with organometallic compounds such as methyl lithium (CH3Li) to form the Gilman and Grignard reagents which are used in organic synthesis. Copper(II) chloride is also used as a catalyst in several types of organic chlorination reactions including the production of vinyl chloride monomer.
It is an acidic compound with pH’s less than 7.0, and it reacts as an acid to neutralize bases. This reaction generates heat, but less than is generated by the neutralization of inorganic acids and oxoacids. Solutions of this compound are corrosive and must be handled carefully.
A solution of copper(II) chloride was observed to show thermochromic behavior when exposed to light. The change in color of the solution occurred as the copper(II) chloride ion shifted from its ground state to an excited state, causing electrons to be released from the ion. These electrons are attracted to the chromophores of the solution and cause a color change.
The thermochromic effect was also analyzed with differential scanning calorimetry (DSC). The DSC curve during the heating of the sample at a rate of 5 degC per minute from 40 to 250 degC showed a strong endothermic peak centered at about 195 degC and a sharper one centered around 180 degC. The results of this study suggest that the thermochromic properties of a solution of CuCl2 are caused by the formation of various copper(II) complexes with different ligands in solution.