What is the bonding structure of a metal


All metals have similar properties BUT, there can be wide variations in melting point, boiling point, density, electrical conductivity and physical strength.

To explain the physical properties of metals like iron or sodium we need a more sophisticated picture than a simple particle model of atoms all lined up in close packed rows and layers, though this picture is correctly described as another example of a giant lattice held together by metallic bonding.

A giant metallic lattice – the crystal lattice of metals consists of ions (NOT atoms) surrounded by a 'sea of electrons' that form thegiant lattice.

The outer electrons (–) from the original metal atoms are free to move around between the positive metal ions formed (+).

These 'free' or 'delocalisedelectrons from the outer shell of the metal atoms are the 'electronic glue' holding the particles together.

There is a strong electrical force of attraction between these free electrons (mobile electrons or 'sea' of delocalised electrons) (–) and the 'immobile' positive metal ions (+) that form the giant lattice and this is the metallic bond.

Metallic bonding is not directional like covalent bonding, it is like ionic bonding in the sense that the force of attraction between the positive metal ions and the mobile electrons acts in every direction about the fixed (immobile) metal ions of the metal crystal lattice, but in ionic lattices none of the ions are mobile. a big difference between a metal bond and an ionic bond.


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