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Kids Chemistry Simplified: Why Do Metals Conduct Electricity?

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Ever wondered why metals can conduct heat and electricity while non-metals aren't able to conduct electricity?

Well, the answers in science are quite fascinating because they open a whole new world of metals and their ability to control electricity.

Metals and non-metals are different from each other when the question of conductors comes into play. Metals are known to be perfect for conduction because of their atom structure. They not only conduct electric current but also can work as a conductor to transfer thermal temperature. Non-metals on the other hand are called impurities and have to be paired up with other materials in order to become elements that can work as conductors.

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Why do metals conduct electricity while non-metals don't?

Metals are typically lustrous objects that are good heat and electricity conductors. Non-metals are natural objects or impurities that produce no heat or electricity.

Non-metals are opposite to metals and the conductivity of electricity is possible in metals because of the free electrons present in metals. Metals can conduct electricity by allowing valence electrons to flow between the atoms. Pure metals can very easily promote conductivity while non-metals have no motion of electrons and ions and therefore electricity conductivity is not possible in non-metals. Non-metals are insulators as they have extremely high resistance to the flow of charge and this makes atoms tightly hold electrons, due to which electricity can't flow through.

Why are metals so conductive?

Metals are known to be good conductors of electricity. Some examples of these metals are stainless steel, aluminum, gold, copper, zinc, iron, lead, and silver which have properties of electrical conductivity. Valence electrons in a metal are free to move in the outer shell and instead of orbiting their respective atoms, the electrically charged electrons move in the form of a sea of electrons and surround the positive nuclei of metallic ions. This makes valence electrons free to move throughout the electron sea.

One common example of electrical conductivity in metals is copper wire being used in home appliances. Even though copper is less conductive than silver, it is used as an effective conductor in households. Some conductor materials like steel, gold, and silver have perfect atomic bonding due to which they can work as conduction materials to carry electric current and heat.

Electrical conductivity in households is tackled by using metals like copper and stainless steel commonly.

Do all substances containing metals conduct electricity and why?

Metals are conductors of electricity and all types of metals can conduct electricity well.

However, all substances don't conduct electricity. Substances containing metal atoms won't dissolve while substances that are non-metals will tend to dissolve. Not all substances have ions and these uncharged particles known as molecules can easily dissolve in water. Not all substances refute electricity but they need to be paired with other materials to create resistivity. The conductivity of metals in all substances is much easier as valence electrons are free to move inside a metal. When electricity passes through metal, the free electrons carry electricity and help to spread it all over the metal. This mobility of electrons helps with the conductivity of metal substances.

Why do different metals conduct electricity differently?

Conductivity is simply explained as the measure of how much heat or electricity a metal can transmit. The reciprocal of conductivity will be resistivity or reciprocal. Pure metals like stainless steel, aluminum, gold, copper, zinc, lead, iron, and silver tend to be the best conductors of electricity and heat. The lattice structure of a metal shows that crystals are tightly packed. The larger the number of atomic bonds, the stronger the metallic bonding.

Most ordinary metals have the same density and therefore the conduction elements of a metal depend on how freely electrons can move around. Valence electrons in some metals like copper, gold, silver, and aluminum can move very fast in an electric field and carry the electric charge before bumping into each other and changing directions. Alloys especially have a structure in which the electrons bounce off irregular elements after traveling a little distance. This resistivity differentiates them from other metals which have better conduction.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for Kids chemistry simplified: why do metals conduct electricity? then why not take a look at Sweet tooth facts: do you know where chocolate come from?, or How is dry ice made? Fun facts that kids will love.

Written By
Kidadl Team

The Kidadl Team is made up of people from different walks of life, from different families and backgrounds, each with unique experiences and nuggets of wisdom to share with you. From lino cutting to surfing to children’s mental health, their hobbies and interests range far and wide. They are passionate about turning your everyday moments into memories and bringing you inspiring ideas to have fun with your family.

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