Properties of Metals, Nonmetals, and Metalloids

Everyone knows that substances such as iron and copper are metals. However, many people are surprised to learn that calcium is one, too. Learn what these elements have in common, and what makes something a metal, nonmetal, or metalloid.

1. Position on the Periodic Table of Elements

The secret to knowing whether an object is made of metal is found on the periodic table. Simply look for the bold, stair-stepping line toward the right side of the chart. Every element to the left of this line is a metal and everything to the right is a nonmetal. The elements directly touching the line are metalloids, with properties of both metals and nonmetals. The six metalloids are silicon, boron, arsenic, germanium, antimony, and tellurium.

2. Malleability

When you hit a piece of metal with something hard, it bends. This tendency is known as malleability, and is the secret behind hammered metal art, the removal of dents from vehicles, and sheet metal fabrication Houston TX. In contrast, nonmetals are brittle. For example, when you strike a piece of sulfur, it instead shatters into hundreds of pieces. Metalloids can be either malleable or brittle.

3. Conductivity

Metals undergo a type of bonding in which their electrons move around freely. This so-called sea of electrons is responsible for the ability of metals to carry an electrical current. The atoms of nonmetals, on the other hand, hold on to their electrons more tightly, and as a result, do not conduct electricity. One exception to this rule is graphite, which is an excellent conductor, despite being made of the nonmetal carbon. Metalloids such as silicon have an intermediate level of conductivity and thus make excellent semiconductors.

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Next time you are wondering whether something is a metal or not, simply refer to these three properties. Everyone will be amazed at your knowledge of chemistry.