Metallic Chemical Bonds

Contributor: Hannah Brooks. Lesson ID: 12904

When you are at a party with a bunch of friends, you probably mix and mingle among each other. Some elements act similarly: their electrons float around the nuclei, giving the material unique traits!

categories

Chemistry

subject
Science
learning style
Visual
personality style
Lion
Grade Level
High School (9-12)
Lesson Type
Quick Query

Lesson Plan - Get It!

Audio:

How are metals and ocean waves similar?

Ocean waves move fluidly, washing over objects and people in the way.

When metallic atoms bond together, they create a fluid structure of electrons. Instead of sharing electrons as in a covalent bond, or transferring them in an ionic bond, a metallic bond involves many atoms sharing all available electrons.

chemical bonding electron graphic

Notice how the electrons are scattered amongst the atoms, not following any specific pattern or trend. This is called "a sea of electrons," and it gives metallic compounds special physical and chemical properties. Metallic bonds form between metals, shown in the darker blue color below:

periodic table

Metallic compounds can easily conduct heat and electricity. This occurs because the electrons can move freely and push the heat or electric signal from one end of the substance to the other. Think about what happens when you give a bowl of water a light push: it generates a wave that moves side-to-side. The same wave forms in a metallic compound.

These compounds are also malleable, meaning they can be molded or hammered into a thin sheet, like the aluminum foil in your kitchen!

metal heated and being formed with a hammer

Metallic compounds are ductile, which means you can pull them into wires.

spool of cooper wire

Each of these characteristics is based on the chemical structure in a metallic bond, where the electrons are free-floating around the atomic nuclei. This structure allows the substance to be modified and changed. Metallic compounds have very high melting and boiling points and are very strong! Think about how hard it would be to break a hammer in half. That strength is based on how tightly-bonded the atoms are in a metallic bond.

When two or more metals mix together, an alloy is created. There are even some alloys that contain non-metallic elements. Alloys are solid mixtures. Many alloys are prized for their strength and durability. A good example is steel, which is created by mixing carbon and iron.

steel

The blend of the two elements generates a product that is very strong, but moldable. When chromium is added to steel, it becomes stainless steel, which has high resistance to damage and corrosion.

  • Why do you think so many people choose to use stainless steel in the kitchen?

stainless steel

Alloys have many uses in our world, and you will learn more about them in the Got It? section. Before moving on, answer the following questions about metallic bonds on a sheet of paper using the lesson material above:

  1. What elements form a metallic bond?
  2. How does the structure of a metallic bond impact the chemical behavior?
  3. What characteristics of a metallic compound are useful?
  4. How are alloys formed?

Metallic compounds form when two metal atoms bond together. This creates a sea of electrons that are floating freely among the positive metal nuclei. This special structure gives metallic compounds properties that are useful in our world.

Learn more about the uses of alloys through online research as you move on to the Got It? section.

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