Wednesday, February 2, 2022

What Metals Conduct Electricity & Why Do You Need It?

metal conductivity

Metals are more conductive to electricity than other material types. But some are more conductive than others. Why do you need metals, and one metal in particular? 

Let’s start with why metals overall are more conductive: the atoms of which metal is composed contain valence electrons. This type of negatively charged particle can move freely through atom lattices, which results in conducting electric current.

But the more of these valence electrons a type of metal has, the conductivity of that metal is weaker. That may sound counter-intuitive, but the reason is simple. With fewer electrons that can create resistance, conductivity is far less strong. So, metals with only one valence electron are actually the most conductive types of metals

Metals that Best Conduct Electricity

While all metals have electrical conductivity, those that are the least resistive to electricity are the most conductive. These include:

  • Silver

  • Copper

  • Gold

  • Aluminum

Silver is considered the most conductive metal. It was once used for the manufacture of electrical cables and wire. But, due to its low heat resistance, which can lead to the possibility of fire, it is no longer used for that purpose.

Copper is the second most electrically conductive material. It has replaced the use of silver as far as cables, electrical wires, and other parts of the electric grid. It’s just as soft and malleable as silver, and it offers a very high electrical conductivity and thermal conductivity.

But, unlike silver, it's highly reactive, meaning that it can be combined quite easily with other metal types. The result: there are more than 100 different kinds of copper-based alloys. Among the most popular are bronze and brass. 

Brass is stronger and firmer than copper alone but it can crack under stress. Copper can more easily bend without any breakage. Brass is also less conductive than copper, which means it is not suitable for electrical applications. In other uses, such as plumbing, brass is usually more resistant to corrosion than copper.

While copper is the top choice for electrical conductivity uses today, there are a few others that conduct electricity well.

Gold is the most expensive metal, and is not commonly used as an industrial electrical or construction material. Non-reactive, like silver, it’s somewhat difficult to alloy as well.

Aluminum is, on the other hand, an abundant and widely used metal. Along with its alloys, aluminum is used extensively in major industries from aerospace to construction and transportation. 

Why Do We Need Metal?

There are so many reasons why metal is crucial to modern life, and its ability to conduct electricity is key. Without conductive metal, our communications systems, transportation and vehicles, and our general infrastructure would be nonexistent.

Copper, specifically, is vital for all of these systems and applications. 

Atlas Bronze Can Help with Your Metal Needs

Regardless of your needs, our skilled professionals at Atlas Bronze are here to assist you. 

If you’re considering the right metal for your applications, our sales team is ready to help. Contact us - our expert team is ready today to help you get started at 1-800-478-0887.


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