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Ammonium Persulfate CAS 7727-54-0
Ammonium persulfate (APS) is the inorganic compound with the formula (NH4)2S2O8. It is a colourless (white) salt that is highly soluble in water, much more so than the related potassium salt. It is a strong oxidizing agent that is used in polymer chemistry, as an etchant, and as a cleaning and bleaching agent.
Ammonium persulfate is prepared by electrolysis of a cold concentrated solution
ammonium sulfate in sulfuric acid at a high current density. The method was
first described by H. Marshall.
As an oxidizer and a source of radicals, APS finds many commercial applications.
Salts of peroxydisulfate are mainly used as radical initiators in the polymerization of
certain alkenes. Commercially important polymers prepared using persulfates include
styrene-butadiene rubber and polytetrafluoroethylene. In solution, the dianion dissociates
to give radicals:
[O3SO-OSO3]2- 2 [SO4]-
The sulfate radical adds to the alkene to give a sulfate ester radical. It is also used along with
tetramethylethylenediamine to catalyze the polymerization of acrylamide in making a polyacrylamide gel.
Illustrative of its powerful oxidizing properties, it is used to etch copper on printed circuit boards as an alternative to ferric chloride solution. This property was discovered many years ago. In 1908, John William Turrentine used a dilute ammonium persulfate solution to etch copper. Turrentine weighed copper spirals before placing the copper spirals into the ammonium persulfate solution for an hour. After an hour, the spirals were weighed again and the amount of copper dissolved by ammonium persulfate was recorded. This experiment was extended to other metals such as nickel, cadium, and iron, all of which yielded similar results. The oxidation equation is thus: 1/2 S2O8 (aq)2- + e- -> SO4 (aq)2-.
Ammonium persulfate is the main component of Nochromix, a laboratory cleaning agent. On dissolving in sulfuric acid, it is used to clean laboratory glassware as a metal-free alternative to chromic acid baths. It is also a standard ingredient in western blot gels and hair bleach. Persulfates are used as oxidants in organic chemistry.
Airborne dust may be irritating to eye, nose, throat, lung and skin upon contact. Exposure to
high levels of dust may cause difficulty in breathing.
It has been noted that persulfate salts are a major cause of asthmatic effects in women.
Furthermore, it has been suggested that exposure to ammonium persulfate can cause asthmatic effects in hair dressers and receptionists working in the hair dressing industry. These asthmatic effects are proposed to be caused by the oxidation of cysteine residues, as well as methionine residues.
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