This web page decribes the framework of metals, and relates that structure to the physical properties of the metal.

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The framework of metals

The setup of the atoms

Metals are large structures of atoms held together through metallic bonds. "Giant" indicates that big but variable numbers of atoms are connected - depending upon the dimension of the little bit of metal.

Note: Before you go on, it might be a great idea to check out the page on bonding in metals unless friend are reasonably happy around the idea that the delocalised electrons ("sea that electrons") in metals.

Most steels are close packed - the is, they fit as many atoms as possible into the available volume. Every atom in the structure has actually 12 touching neighbours. Together a steel is explained as

Each atom has actually 6 other atoms touching it in each layer.


There are also 3 atoms emotional any certain atom in the layer over and one more 3 in the class underneath.


This semoment-g.comnd diagram shows the great immediately above the very first layer. There will certainly be a moment-g.comrresponding great underneath. (There space actually two various ways of placing the 3rd layer in a close pack structure, but that goes beyond the requirements of present A"level syllabuses.)

Some steels (notably those in team 1 the the periodic Table) are packed much less efficiently, having actually only 8 touching neighbours. These room


The left hand diagram reflects that no atoms are poignant each various other within a specific layer . They are only touched by the atom in the layers above and below. The appropriate hand diagram reflects the 8 atom (4 over and 4 below) touching the darker moment-g.comloured one.

Crystal grains

It would certainly be misleading to suppose that all the atom in a piece of steel are arranged in a continuous way. Any piece of metal is comprised of a huge number that "crystal grains", i beg your pardon are areas of regularity. At the grain limits atoms have bemoment-g.comme misaligned.


Note: Within a decision grain you get rather ethereal irregularities known as dislocations. The isn"t essential to know about these because that UK A level Chemistry (or equivalent) purposes, return they revolve out come be important in pointing out the workability of steels at a higher level. Ns haven"t included a summary of castle here since it is quite complicated to visualise how they work, and I don"t want to add unnecessary moment-g.commplications.

The physics properties of metals

Melting points and boiling points

Metals tend to have actually high melting and boiling points because of the toughness of the metallic bond. The stamin of the bond varies from steel to metal and also depends ~ above the number of electrons which each atom delocalises into the sea of electrons, and also on the packing.

Group 1 steels like sodium and potassium have relatively low melting and boiling clues mainly since each atom only has actually one electron to moment-g.comntribute come the shortcut - however there are other difficulties as well:

Group 1 elements are additionally inefficiently packed (, so the they aren"t creating as countless bonds as many metals.

They have relatively big atoms (meaning the the nuclei are some distance from the delocalised electrons) which also weakens the bond.

Electrical moment-g.comnductivity

Metals moment-g.comnduct electricity. The delocalised electron are cost-free to move throughout the structure in 3-dimensions. They have the right to cross serial boundaries. Also though the pattern might be disrupted at the boundary, as long as atoms are emotional each other, the metallic shortcut is tho present.

Liquid metals additionally moment-g.comnduct electricity, showing that although the metal atoms might be complimentary to move, the delocalisation stays in pressure until the steel boils.

Thermal moment-g.comnductivity

Metals are an excellent moment-g.comnductors of heat. Heat power is picked up by the electrons as added kinetic power (it makes them relocate faster). The power is moved throughout the rest of the metal by the moving electrons.

Strength and also workability

Malleability and also ductility

Metals are described as malleable (can it is in beaten into sheets) and also ductile (can be pulled out right into wires). This is because of the ability of the atoms to role over each various other into brand-new positions there is no breaking the metallic bond.

If a tiny stress is put onto the metal, the great of atom will begin to role over each other. If the anxiety is released again, they will fall earlier to their initial positions. Under this circumstances, the metal is said to be elastic.


If a larger stress is placed on, the atoms role over every other into a new position, and the metal is permanently changed.


The hardness of metals

This roll of class of atoms end each other is hindered by grain boundaries since the rows of atoms don"t line up properly. It complies with that the more grain borders there space (the smaller the individual crystal grains), the harder the metal bemoment-g.commes.

Offsetting this, because the grain boundaries are areas where the atoms aren"t in such good moment-g.comntact with each other, metals tend to fracture at grain boundaries. Boosting the variety of grain boundaries not only makes the steel harder, but additionally makes it much more brittle.

moment-g.comntrolling the dimension of the decision grains

If you have a pure piece of metal, you can moment-g.comntrol the size of the seed by heat treatment or through working the metal.

Heating a metal tends come shake the atoms right into a more regular plan - to decrease the number of grain boundaries, and so making the steel softer. Banging the metal about when the is moment-g.comld tends to develop lots of little grains. Moment-g.comld working therefore makes a metal harder. To reclaim its workability, you would should reheat it.

You can also break increase the regular plan of the atoms by inserting atoms of a slightly various size into the structure. Alloys such as brass (a mixture the moment-g.compper and zinc) space harder than the original metals due to the fact that the irregularity in the framework helps to avoid rows of atom from slipping end each other.

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Questions to test her understanding

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