Wednesday, December 1, 2021

What Metal Is The Best Conductor of Electricity?

 

Heading all the way back to middle school science, you may remember learning about electrons. In metals, these electrons are electronically charged particles that move about. When an electric charge comes in contact with that metal, the electrons move and allow the electricity to pass right on through. 


Knowing this, determining what metals work well for conducting electricity would point to those with high electron mobility. With so many metals available - and some more conductive than others - which one is the best? 

THE BEST CONDUCTOR OF ELECTRICITY: PURE SILVER


Hands down, the best conductor of electricity is pure silver. It contains the highest level of electrons, allowing electricity to easily pass through. And the greater the level of electrons, the greater its conductivity. Yet, silver is not often used in everyday applications. Why is that? 


First, pure silver is expensive. In creating everyday household appliances and keeping them affordable, this metal just isn’t the most viable option. Second, silver tarnishes. When it comes to high frequency currents, the appearance of tarnish can negatively impact the metal’s conductivity level. 


While pure silver may be the best conductor of electricity, it isn’t widely used except for specialized equipment or situations.  

THE RUNNERS UP


Just because a metal doesn’t rank #1 for electric conductivity doesn’t mean it isn’t a solid choice. There are a few runners-up that work well in all sorts of scenarios. For instance, copper. 

Copper

Copper is one of the most commonly used metals for conducting electricity. It, too, has a high number of free electrons that can get the job done at high levels. It is much more affordable than copper and is found throughout households. When high levels of conductive metals are needed, copper holds up well to soldering and being wrapped into thicker wires. Unfortunately, copper can corrode over time, which will reduce its effectiveness in this role. 

Aluminum

Aluminum is another option. It works as well as copper at times. And, it is more affordable. While it is used for certain products, it isn’t always the best option. The reason is that it forms an oxidized surface that is resistant to the electrical connection, often causing the connection to overheat. 

Gold

Gold is another great option. It works well to conduct electricity and it doesn’t tarnish as pure silver does. Though you can probably guess why gold isn’t used very often for this role - it’s expensive!

Steel and Brass

Steel and brass are two more runners-up that work well as conductors of electricity. As an alloy of iron, steel is incredibly durable - so much so that it isn't very flexible at all. This makes it not an ideal solution for everyday products requiring electrical conductivity. However, it does work well for larger structures.

Finally, another alloy, brass, easily bends and molds to fit smaller machines and tiny parts. It doesn’t corrode as easily as some other metals, it is highly conductive, cheap to purchase, and always retains its value.  

FACTORS THE IMPACT A METAL’S LEVEL OF CONDUCTIVITY


Believe it or not, certain factors can determine just how well a metal will conduct electricity. 


  • Temperature. The conductivity of many metals will be impacted by temperature, often slowing down in colder temperatures. 

  • Impurities. Oxidization, rust, corrosion, and more will reduce the ability of a metal to conduct electricity. 

  • Processed level. Pure metals will be better conductors than those that have been highly processed. 


When determining the best choice for your mind, you will want to take into consideration the characteristics of the metal and how it will react in your application. 

LOOKING FOR CONDUCTIVE METAL? 


Regardless of what you are creating, Atlas Bronze has a wide selection of metals and made-to-order products to meet your needs. And we have a variety of different types of metals. 


Our friendly, knowledgeable staff is always available to answer any questions you have or assist you with your purchase. Call Atlas Bronze today at (800) 478-0887. Or contact us online.

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