Skip to main content
Chemistry LibreTexts

Combined or Mixed Equilibria of Cu²⁺

  • Page ID
  • \( \newcommand{\vecs}[1]{\overset { \scriptstyle \rightharpoonup} {\mathbf{#1}} } \) \( \newcommand{\vecd}[1]{\overset{-\!-\!\rightharpoonup}{\vphantom{a}\smash {#1}}} \)\(\newcommand{\id}{\mathrm{id}}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\) \( \newcommand{\kernel}{\mathrm{null}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\range}{\mathrm{range}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\RealPart}{\mathrm{Re}}\) \( \newcommand{\ImaginaryPart}{\mathrm{Im}}\) \( \newcommand{\Argument}{\mathrm{Arg}}\) \( \newcommand{\norm}[1]{\| #1 \|}\) \( \newcommand{\inner}[2]{\langle #1, #2 \rangle}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\) \(\newcommand{\id}{\mathrm{id}}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\) \( \newcommand{\kernel}{\mathrm{null}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\range}{\mathrm{range}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\RealPart}{\mathrm{Re}}\) \( \newcommand{\ImaginaryPart}{\mathrm{Im}}\) \( \newcommand{\Argument}{\mathrm{Arg}}\) \( \newcommand{\norm}[1]{\| #1 \|}\) \( \newcommand{\inner}[2]{\langle #1, #2 \rangle}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\)\(\newcommand{\AA}{\unicode[.8,0]{x212B}}\)

    Chemical Concept Demonstrated

    • Complex-formation equilibrium


    Each of the dishes contain Cu 2+ ion solution.
    • Aqueous ammonia is added dropwise into the first dish.
    • Excess ammonia is added into the first dish.


    A precipitate forms as the ammonia is added dropwise into the dish. Additional ammonia causes the precipitate to dissolve and a dark-blue solution is formed.

    Explanations (including important chemical equations)

    A light-blue colored precipitate of Cu(OH)2 is formed when aqueous ammonia is added to Cu 2+ ion solution.

    Cu 2+ (aq) + 2 (OH)- (aq) <=> Cu(OH)2 (s) Ksp = 2.2 x 10-20

    In the presence of excess NH3, this equilibrium shifts to the left as the free Cu 2+ ion is sequestered from the solution as the Cu(NH3)4 2+ complex ion.

    Cu 2+ (aq) + 4 NH3 (aq) <=> Cu(NH3)4 2+ (aq) Ksp = 2.1 x 1013

    The intensity of the absorption of light by the Cu(NH3)4 2+ complex appears to be orders of magnitude greater than the corresponding Cu(H2O)6 2+ complex. The molar absorbances of these complexes, however, differ, roughly, only by a factor of four. The difference between the intensities of the colors of these complexes can be explained by noting that the maximum wavelength for the Cu(H2O)6 2+ complex is about 800 nm, whereas the maximum wavelength for the Cu(NH3)42+ complex occurs at about 600 nm. Since a larger portion of the absorption in the Cu(NH3)4 2+ complex is in the visible portion of the spectrum, the color appears considerably more intense.


    Combined or Mixed Equilibria of Cu²⁺ is shared under a CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by George Bodner.

    • Was this article helpful?