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Metallic Bonding

This page explains how bonding arises within the structure of a metal. It then links the structure of the metallic bond to the properties of metals such as conductivity and high tensile strength.


By the end of this page you should be able to:

  • Recognise and draw diagrams to represent the bonding within metals
  • Explain how metalic bonding arises
  • Explain the properties of metals in terms of their bonding

Another Giant Structure....

Metals are giant structures - that means there are large numbers of particles involved. The ions within the structure of the metal are arranged in an ordered or regular pattern. This means nice neat rows in everyday language. These ions are surrounded by a sea of delocalised electrons. The metal ions and the electron sea have opposing charges and therefore attract each other strongly.

This is shown in the two diagrams to the right, notice that they're pretty much the same except that one has a few electrons added to its electron sea for completeness.

Metallic Bonding Diagram
Metallic Bonding Diagram

How Do Mettlic Bonds Form?

Metals have only one, two or three electrons in their outer shell. They can't bond ionically as metals lose electrons to gain a full outer shell. Metals cannot bond covalenty as metal atoms cannot share enough electrons to gain a full outer shell. So how do metallic bonds form?

Diagram of a metal with electrons bound to the outer shell of the atoms

The metal atoms lose their outer shell electrons to become positively ions, giving them a full outer shell.

Diagram of metallic bonding with electrons on diagram

These electrons are free to move throughout the structure of the metal, we call them delocalised electrons.


Physical Properties of Metallic Compounds

Metallic Compounds have the following physical properties:

  • Hard
  • High melting and boiling points
  • Good conductors of electricity
  • Good conductors of thermal energy

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