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These can move around with almost no resistance, whereas for insulators a key difference is that these electrons cannot move around freely. These don't have the right energy levels and bands in order to make these electrons move around freely. They are also stuck.

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For insulators, everything is basically stuck, These electrons might be able to jump around in their own atoms or get shared in a neighboring atom, but it can't jump around freely from atom to atom and travel throughout the insulator. For the conductors, the electrons can do this. Now the electrons aren't just going to do this on their own, they have to be compelled to start moving by hooking this up to a battery or setting up some sort of electric field or force.

If that did happen, the electrons in a conductor start migrating down the line but in an insulator, the electrons are stuck which might make you think that "Well, okay, shoot, for electrical materials "all we really care about are the conductors. This nucleus and the cloud of electrons can kind of shift a little bit. Positive may be this way, and the the negatives over on the other end so what you get is overall this side of the atom would be more negative, and this side of the atom would be more positive. Even though the electron doesn't move, and the electrons don't move, now because this is set up where the positive is shifted from the negative, this material, if you get all of them to do this or a lot of them, this can create an overall electrical effect where this insulator can interact with other charges nearby and exert forces on them.

Even though the charges can't flow through an insulator, they can still interact electrically. Now, let's see what happens if we add extra charge to these insulators or conductors. I mean, the way they started off right here we had just as many positives in the nucleus as there are negatives surrounding them and that's true for the conductors and insulators.

What happens if we add extra charge? Maybe we add extra negatives into here. Then what happens? Well, it'll get really messy if we try to draw it with all the atoms, so since these all cancel out their overall charge, I am not going to draw every atom and nucleus. I'm just going to pretend like those are there and they are all canceling out. I'm just going to draw the actual extra charge. Let's say we added extra negative charges to this insulator.

What would happen? Let's say I just add a negative charge here and a negative charge there, and here and there, I have added a bunch of negative charges to this insulator. Well, we know these negatives can't move throughout and insulator.

Periodic Table of Elements Explained - Metals, Nonmetals, Valence Electrons, Charges

Charges can't flow through an insulator so they're stuck which means for an insulator, I could charge the whole thing uniformly if I wanted to where the charge is spread out throughout the whole thing or I could make them bunch up on one side if I wanted to and they'd be stuck there. The point is that they're stuck. For a conductor, what would happen if I tried to put a negative here and a negative there, some extra negative charge on a conductor?

They don't have to stay here if they don't want to. If you put extra negatives in here, they are not going to want to because negatives repel each other just like opposites attract, like charges repel. So what are they going to do? Well, this negative is going to try to get as far away from this other negative as it can so go over here. This negative is going to try to get as far away as it can. It repels it. Now, it can't jump off the conductor. That takes a lot more energy, but it can go to the very edge. That's what charges do for conductors. You've got a solid conducting material, you put extra charge on it, it's all All that charge is going to reside on the outside edge whether you've added extra negative or positive, always on the outside edge.

You can only add charge to the outside edge for a conductor, because if it wasn't on the outside edge it will quickly find its way to the outside edge because all these negatives repel each other. I said this is true for positives or negative. You might wonder, "How do we add a positive? If you started off with a material that had just as many positives as negatives and you took away a negative, it's essentially like adding a positive charge in here.

But again, the net positive charge, the net negative charge always resides on the outside edge of the conductor because charges try to get as far away from each other as possible. So what physical materials actually do this? What physical materials are insulators? These are things like glass is an insulator.

Wood is an insulator. Most plastics are insulators. All of these display this kind of behavior where you can distribute charge and the charge can't flow through it. You can stick charge on it. In fact, you can stick charge on the outside edge and it will stay there. There's conductors. Log In. Sign up to receive regular email alerts from Physical Review Journals Archive. Journal: Phys. X Rev. A Phys. B Phys.

Conductors and insulators

C Phys. D Phys. E Phys. Fluids Phys. Materials Phys. The magnetic field shields the Earth from the charged particles of the solar wind, and cosmic rays that would otherwise strip away the upper atmosphere including the ozone layer that limits the transmission of ultraviolet radiation. Metals are often extracted from the Earth by means of mining ores that are rich sources of the requisite elements, such as bauxite.

Ore is located by prospecting techniques, followed by the exploration and examination of deposits. Mineral sources are generally divided into surface mines , which are mined by excavation using heavy equipment, and subsurface mines. Once the ore is mined, the metals must be extracted , usually by chemical or electrolytic reduction. Pyrometallurgy uses high temperatures to convert ore into raw metals, while hydrometallurgy employs aqueous chemistry for the same purpose. The methods used depend on the metal and their contaminants.

When a metal ore is an ionic compound of that metal and a non-metal, the ore must usually be smelted —heated with a reducing agent—to extract the pure metal. Many common metals, such as iron, are smelted using carbon as a reducing agent. Some metals, such as aluminium and sodium , have no commercially practical reducing agent, and are extracted using electrolysis instead.

Sulfide ores are not reduced directly to the metal but are roasted in air to convert them to oxides. Metals are present in nearly all aspects of modern life.

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Its ores are widespread; it is easy to refine ; and the technology involved has been developed over hundreds of years. Some metals and metal alloys possess high structural strength per unit mass, making them useful materials for carrying large loads or resisting impact damage.

Metal alloys can be engineered to have high resistance to shear, torque and deformation. However the same metal can also be vulnerable to fatigue damage through repeated use or from sudden stress failure when a load capacity is exceeded. The strength and resilience of metals has led to their frequent use in high-rise building and bridge construction, as well as most vehicles, many appliances, tools, pipes, and railroad tracks.

How are metals made?

Metals are good conductors, making them valuable in electrical appliances and for carrying an electric current over a distance with little energy lost. Electrical power grids rely on metal cables to distribute electricity. Home electrical systems, for the most part, are wired with copper wire for its good conducting properties. The thermal conductivity of metals is useful for containers to heat materials over a flame. Metals are also used for heat sinks to protect sensitive equipment from overheating.

The high reflectivity of some metals enables their use in mirrors, including precision astronomical instruments, and adds to the aesthetics of metallic jewelry. Some metals have specialized uses; mercury is a liquid at room temperature and is used in switches to complete a circuit when it flows over the switch contacts. Radioactive metals such as uranium and plutonium are used in nuclear power plants to produce energy via nuclear fission. Shape memory alloys are used for applications such as pipes, fasteners and vascular stents. Metals can be doped with foreign molecules—organic, inorganic, biological and polymers.

This doping entails the metal with new properties that are induced by the guest molecules. Applications in catalysis, medicine, electrochemical cells, corrosion and more have been developed. Demand for metals is closely linked to economic growth given their use in infrastructure, construction, manufacturing, and consumer goods.

During the 20th century, the variety of metals used in society grew rapidly. Today, the development of major nations, such as China and India, and technological advances, are fuelling ever more demand. The result is that mining activities are expanding, and more and more of the world's metal stocks are above ground in use, rather than below ground as unused reserves.

An example is the in-use stock of copper. Between and , copper in use in the U. Metals are inherently recyclable, so in principle, can be used over and over again, minimizing these negative environmental impacts and saving energy. Globally, metal recycling is generally low. In , the International Resource Panel , hosted by the United Nations Environment Programme published reports on metal stocks that exist within society [26] and their recycling rates.

They warned that the recycling rates of some rare metals used in applications such as mobile phones, battery packs for hybrid cars and fuel cells are so low that unless future end-of-life recycling rates are dramatically stepped up these critical metals will become unavailable for use in modern technology. Some metals are either essential nutrients typically iron, cobalt , and zinc , or relatively harmless such as ruthenium , silver, and indium , but can be toxic in larger amounts or certain forms.

Other metals, such as cadmium , mercury, and lead, are highly poisonous. Potential sources of metal poisoning include mining , tailings , industrial wastes , agricultural runoff , occupational exposure , paints and treated timber. Copper, which occurs in native form, may have been the first metal discovered given its distinctive appearance, heaviness, and malleability compared to other stones or pebbles. Gold, silver, and iron as meteoric iron , and lead were likewise discovered in prehistory. Forms of brass , an alloy of copper and zinc made by concurrently smelting the ores of these metals, originate from this period although pure zinc was not isolated until the 13th century.

The malleability of the solid metals led to the first attempts to craft metal ornaments, tools, and weapons. Meteoric iron containing nickel was discovered from time to time and, in some respects this was superior to any industrial steel manufactured up to the s when alloy steels become prominent. The discovery of bronze an alloy of copper with arsenic or tin enabled people to create metal objects which were harder and more durable than previously possible. Bronze tools, weapons, armor, and building materials such as decorative tiles were harder and more durable than their stone and copper " Chalcolithic " predecessors.

Initially, bronze was made of copper and arsenic forming arsenic bronze by smelting naturally or artificially mixed ores of copper and arsenic. From about BCE sword-makers of Toledo, Spain were making early forms of alloy steel by adding a mineral called wolframite , which contained tungsten and manganese, to iron ore and carbon.

It soon became the basis for the weaponry of Roman legions; their swords were said to have been "so keen that there is no helmet which cannot be cut through by them. In pre-Columbian America , objects made of tumbaga , an alloy of copper and gold, started being produced in Panama and Costa Rica between — CE.

Small metal sculptures were common and an extensive range of tumbaga and gold ornaments comprised the usual regalia of persons of high status. At around the same time indigenous Ecuadorians were combining gold with a naturally-occurring platinum alloy containing small amounts of palladium, rhodium, and iridium, to produce miniatures and masks composed of a white gold-platinum alloy.

The metal workers involved heated gold with grains of the platinum alloy until the gold melted at which point the platinum group metals became bound within the gold. After cooling, the resulting conglomeration was hammered and reheated repeatedly until it became as homogenous as if all of the metals concerned had been melted together attaining the melting points of the platinum group metals concerned was beyond the technology of the day.

Arabic and medieval alchemists believed that all metals and matter were composed of the principle of sulfur, the father of all metals and carrying the combustible property, and the principle of mercury, the mother of all metals [n 10] and carrier of the liquidity, fusibility, and volatility properties. These principles were not necessarily the common substances sulfur and mercury found in most laboratories. This theory reinforced the belief that all metals were destined to become gold in the bowels of the earth through the proper combinations of heat, digestion, time, and elimination of contaminants, all of which could be developed and hastened through the knowledge and methods of alchemy.

Arsenic, zinc, antimony, and bismuth became known, although these were at first called semimetals or bastard metals on account of their immalleability.


All four may have been used incidentally in earlier times without recognising their nature. Albertus Magnus is believed to have been the first to isolate arsenic from a compound in , by heating soap together with arsenic trisulfide. Metallic zinc, which is brittle if impure, was isolated in India by AD. The first description of a procedure for isolating antimony is in the book De la pirotechnia by Vannoccio Biringuccio.

Bismuth was described by Agricola in De Natura Fossilium c. The first systematic text on the arts of mining and metallurgy was De la Pirotechnia by Vannoccio Biringuccio , which treats the examination, fusion, and working of metals. Sixteen years later, Georgius Agricola published De Re Metallica in , a clear and complete account of the profession of mining, metallurgy, and the accessory arts and sciences, as well as qualifying as the greatest treatise on the chemical industry through the sixteenth century.

He gave the following description of a metal in his De Natura Fossilium :. Metal is a mineral body, by nature either liquid or somewhat hard. The latter may be melted by the heat of the fire, but when it has cooled down again and lost all heat, it becomes hard again and resumes its proper form.

In this respect it differs from the stone which melts in the fire, for although the latter regain its hardness, yet it loses its pristine form and properties. Traditionally there are six different kinds of metals, namely gold, silver, copper, iron, tin and lead. There are really others, for quicksilver is a metal, although the Alchemists disagree with us on this subject, and bismuth is also.

The ancient Greek writers seem to have been ignorant of bismuth, wherefore Ammonius rightly states that there are many species of metals, animals, and plants which are unknown to us. Stibium when smelted in the crucible and refined has as much right to be regarded as a proper metal as is accorded to lead by writers. If when smelted, a certain portion be added to tin, a bookseller's alloy is produced from which the type is made that is used by those who print books on paper. Each metal has its own form which it preserves when separated from those metals which were mixed with it.

Therefore neither electrum nor Stannum [not meaning our tin] is of itself a real metal, but rather an alloy of two metals. Electrum is an alloy of gold and silver, Stannum of lead and silver. And yet if silver be parted from the electrum, then gold remains and not electrum; if silver be taken away from Stannum, then lead remains and not Stannum. Whether brass, however, is found as a native metal or not, cannot be ascertained with any surety. We only know of the artificial brass, which consists of copper tinted with the colour of the mineral calamine.

And yet if any should be dug up, it would be a proper metal. Black and white copper seem to be different from the red kind. Metal, therefore, is by nature either solid, as I have stated, or fluid, as in the unique case of quicksilver. But enough now concerning the simple kinds. Platinum, the third precious metal after gold and silver, was discovered in Ecuador during the period to , by the Spanish astronomer Antonio de Ulloa and his colleague the mathematician Jorge Juan y Santacilia.

Ulloa was the first person to write a scientific description of the metal, in In , the German chemist Martin Heinrich Klaproth was able to isolate an oxide of uranium, which he thought was the metal itself. Klaproth was subsequently credited as the discoverer of uranium. Henri Becquerel subsequently discovered radioactivity in by using uranium. In the s, Joseph Priestley and the Dutch chemist Martinus van Marum observed the transformative action of metal surfaces on the dehydrogenation of alcohol, a development which subsequently led, in , to the industrial scale synthesis of sulphuric acid using a platinum catalyst.

The lanthanide metals were largely regarded as oddities until the s when methods were developed to more efficiently separate them from one another. They have subsequently found uses in cell phones, magnets, lasers, lighting, batteries, catalytic converters, and in other applications enabling modern technologies. Other metals discovered and prepared during this time were cobalt, nickel, manganese, molybdenum, tungsten, and chromium; and some of the platinum group metals, palladium, osmium, iridium, and rhodium.

All metals discovered until had relatively high densities; their heaviness was regarded as a singularly distinguishing criterion. From onwards, light metals such as sodium, potassium, and strontium were isolated. Their low densities challenged conventional wisdom as to the nature of metals. They behaved chemically as metals however, and were subsequently recognised as such. Aluminium was discovered in but it was not until that an industrial large-scale production method was developed.

Prices of aluminium dropped and aluminium became widely used in jewelry, everyday items, eyeglass frames, optical instruments, tableware, and foil in the s and early 20th century. Aluminium's ability to form hard yet light alloys with other metals provided the metal many uses at the time. During World War I, major governments demanded large shipments of aluminium for light strong airframes. The most common metal in use for electric power transmission today is aluminium conductor steel reinforced.

Also seeing much use is all-aluminum-alloy conductor. Aluminium is used because it has about half the weight of a comparable resistance copper cable though larger diameter due to lower specific conductivity , as well as being cheaper. Copper was more popular in the past and is still in use, especially at lower voltages and for grounding. While pure metallic titanium In the s and s, the Soviet Union pioneered the use of titanium in military and submarine applications as part of programs related to the Cold War. Starting in the early s, titanium came into use extensively in military aviation, particularly in high-performance jets, starting with aircraft such as the F Super Sabre and Lockheed A and SR Metallic scandium was produced for the first time in Production of aluminium-scandium alloys began in following a U.

Aluminium-scandium alloys were also developed in the USSR. The modern era in steelmaking began with the introduction of Henry Bessemer 's Bessemer process in , the raw material for which was pig iron. His method let him produce steel in large quantities cheaply, thus mild steel came to be used for most purposes for which wrought iron was formerly used. The Gilchrist-Thomas process or basic Bessemer process was an improvement to the Bessemer process, made by lining the converter with a basic material to remove phosphorus.

Due to its high tensile strength and low cost, steel came to be a major component used in buildings , infrastructure , tools , ships , automobiles , machines , appliances, and weapons. In , the Englishmen Clark and Woods patented an alloy that would today be considered a stainless steel. Metallurgists of the 19th century were unable to produce the combination of low carbon and high chromium found in most modern stainless steels, and the high-chromium alloys they could produce were too brittle to be practical.

It was not until that the industrialisation of stainless steel alloys occurred in England, Germany, and the United States. By three metals with atomic numbers less than lead 82 , the heaviest stable metal, remained to be discovered: elements 71, 72, Von Welsbach, in , proved that the old ytterbium also contained a new element 71 , which he named cassiopeium. Urbain proved this simultaneously, but his samples were very impure and only contained trace quantities of the new element. Despite this, his chosen name lutetium was adopted. In , Ogawa found element 75 in thorianite but assigned it as element 43 instead of 75 and named it nipponium.

Georges Urbain claimed to have found element 72 in rare-earth residues, while Vladimir Vernadsky independently found it in orthite. Neither claim was confirmed due to World War I, and neither could be confirmed later, as the chemistry they reported does not match that now known for hafnium.

Electric Charge and Electric Field

After the war, in , Coster and Hevesy found it by X-ray spectroscopic analysis in Norwegian zircon. Hafnium was thus the last stable element to be discovered. By the end of World War II scientists had synthesized four post-uranium elements, all of which are radioactive unstable metals: neptunium in , plutonium —41 , and curium and americium , representing elements 93 to The first two of these were eventually found in nature as well. Curium and americium were by-products of the Manhattan project, which produced the world's first atomic bomb in The bomb was based on the nuclear fission of uranium, a metal first thought to have been discovered nearly years earlier.

They retain most of their strength under these conditions, for prolonged periods, and combine good low-temperature ductility with resistance to corrosion or oxidation. Superalloys can now be found in a wide range of applications including land, maritime, and aerospace turbines, and chemical and petroleum plants. The successful development of the atomic bomb at the end of World War II sparked further efforts to synthesize new elements, nearly all of which are, or are expected to be, metals, and all of which are radioactive.