Why does the colorless solution of silver nitrate slowly turn blue on adding copper chips to it?


Question: Why does the colorless solution of silver nitrate slowly turn blue on adding copper chips to it?

In this blog post, I will explain why the colorless solution of silver nitrate slowly turns blue on adding copper chips to it. This is a classic example of a redox reaction, where one substance loses electrons and another gains them. 

The colorless solution of silver nitrate contains silver ions (Ag+) and nitrate ions (NO3-). When copper chips are added to the solution, they react with the silver ions and form metallic silver (Ag) and copper ions (Cu2+). The metallic silver appears as a grayish-black precipitate, while the copper ions impart a blue color to the solution. 

The equation for this reaction is:

Cu(s) + 2AgNO3(aq) -> Cu(NO3)2(aq) + 2Ag(s)

In this equation, we can see that copper loses two electrons and becomes Cu2+, while silver gains one electron and becomes Ag. This means that copper is oxidized and silver is reduced. The substance that causes oxidation is called the oxidizing agent, and the substance that causes reduction is called the reducing agent. In this case, silver nitrate is the oxidizing agent and copper is the reducing agent.

This reaction is also an example of a displacement reaction, where a more reactive metal displaces a less reactive metal from its salt solution. Copper is more reactive than silver, so it can displace silver from silver nitrate. The reactivity of metals depends on their tendency to lose electrons and form positive ions. The more easily a metal loses electrons, the more reactive it is.

This reaction can be used to demonstrate the relative reactivity of metals and to prepare pure silver crystals. It can also be used to test for the presence of silver ions in a solution, as they will form a black precipitate with copper.

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