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The Structure of Metals

The properties of metals can be explained by looking at the way their atoms are arranged.

Metals are crystalline solids, their atoms are packed tightly together in a regular pattern. There are three main types of arrangement on the metal.

Body Centred Cubic (BCC)

An atom at each vertex and one in the centre of the cube.

BCC

 

Face Centred Cubic (FCC)

An atom at each vertex and in the centre of each face.

FCC

 

Hexagonal Close Packing (HCP)

HCP

 

 

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A Closer Look at Metals

Metallic Bonding

The atoms in metal structures release electrons.

atoms in metal

These released electrons are responsible for holding the metal atoms together. They create 'mobile sea' of electrons which allow the metal to conduct electricity.

Metals are elements that are found on the left hand side of the periodic table. The following links are to the Visual Chemistry section (they open in a new tab or window):

The Periodic Table

Metal or Non-metal?
Transition Metals

Group I : The Alkali Metals
Reactions
The Metal Hydroxide
Precipitate reactions

Group II : The Alkali Earth Metals
Reactions
Compounds

 

Properties of Metals

  • They are shiny solids (except mercury)

  • Generally high melting and boiling points.

  • Strong in compression and tension.

  • Malleable.

  • Ductile.

  • Good conductors of heat and electricity.

 

The strength of metals

The strength of metals and other physical properties can be explained by looking at the way the atoms are tightly packed together.

 

 

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