The Metallic Character of the Elements

  • The elements can be divided into two broad types: metals and nonmetals.
  • Most of the elements are metals and a small number of elements display properties of both types. These elements are called metalloids or semimetals.
  • The metallic character of the elements decreases as you move across a Period on the Periodic table, from left to right, and it increases as you move down a Group.
  • This trend occurs due to atoms more readily accepting electrons to fill their valence shells rather than losing them to have the below, already full, electron
  • shell as their outer shell.

Metals, metalloids & non-metals, IGCSE & GCSE Chemistry revision notes

Metals lie on the left hand side and nonmetals lie on the right with the metalloids in between

Atomic Structure and Position of Elements on the Periodic Table

  • Those metals that are further to the left on the Periodic Table do not have many electrons to remove from their outer shells.
  • As you descend the Groups, the outer shell electrons become more distant from the nucleus due to increasing atomic size, thus weakening their attraction to the nucleus.
  • These elements thus form positive ions very easily.
  • For the nonmetals which are placed on the right hand side, the opposite is the case.
  • These elements have a lot of valence electrons and it is more feasible for them to gain and / or share electrons to obtain a full outer shell than it is to lose electrons.
  • This is a key difference between metals and nonmetals and influences their chemical behaviour.
  • It also clearly illustrates the important link between an element’s atomic number and how it reacts as well as its position on the Periodic Table.

AQA GCSE Chemistry Notes

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Morgan Curtin Chemistry

Author: Morgan

Morgan’s passion for the Periodic Table begun on his 10th birthday when he received his first Chemistry set. After studying the subject at university he went on to become a fully fledged Chemistry teacher, and now works in an international school in Madrid! In his spare time he helps create our fantastic resources to help you ace your exams.