AQA GCSE Chemistry

Revision Notes

2.2.9 Metals as Conductors

Electrical Conductivity

  • Metals have free electrons available to move and carry charge throughout the metal lattice structure
  • Electrons entering one end of the metal cause a delocalised electron to displace itself from the other end
  • Hence electrons can flow so electricity is conducted
  • Copper is used extensively in the production of electrical wiring due to its excellent malleability and electrical conductivity

Electrical wire insulator, IGCSE & GCSE Chemistry revision notes

Copper has one of the highest electrical conductivities of any metal

Exam Tip

Insulators are the opposite of conductors in that they do not conduct electricity. Plastic, rubber and wood are examples of materials that are insulators.

Thermal Conductivity

  • Similarly, metals are also good conductors of heat
  • The delocalised electrons are free to move and can also carry thermal energy throughout the metal lattice structure
  • Some metals are better conductors of heat energy than others

A Table Showing the Different Conductivities of Metals

Thermal Conductivity of Metals, downloadable IGCSE & GCSE Chemistry revision notes

*W/mK = Watts per metre Kelvin is a unit of thermal conductivity

Exam Tip

Copper again is an excellent thermal conductor. For this reason many older cooking utensils were made of copper before the advent of alloys and composites.

Author: Francesca

Fran has taught A level Chemistry in the UK for over 10 years. As head of science, she used her passion for education to drive improvement for staff and students, supporting them to achieve their full potential. Fran has also co-written science textbooks and worked as an examiner for UK exam boards.
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