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Science

Metal structure and properties

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The physical properties of different metals make them useful for different purposes. For example, copper is used for electrical wiring because it is a good conductor of electricity.

Metal particles are held together by strong metallic bonds, which is why they have high melting and boiling points. The free electrons in metals can move through the metal, allowing metals to conduct electricity. Superconductors have little or no electrical resistance.

Properties of metals

Metals have these typical physical properties:

  • Lustrous (shiny)
  • Hard
  • High density (are heavy for their size)
  • High tensile strength (resist being stretched)
  • High melting and boiling points
  • Good conductors of heat and electricity

These properties make metals useful for many purposes. For example:

  • Iron is used to make cars and bridges because it is hard, with a high tensile strength
  • Copper is used to make electrical wiring because it is a good conductor of electricity

You should be able to suggest the properties needed by a metal for a particular use. For example, the bases of saucepans need to be good conductors of heat.

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Back to The periodic table index

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