Monday, January 30, 2012

Metallic Bonding

Metals do not form ionic bonds with each other. An aluminum atom, for example, has three valence electrons. It cannot form a bond with another aluminum atom. If one aluminum atom gives up its three valence electrons to another atom, it would have six valence electrons and not be stable. If an aluminum atom gave up its three valence electrons to two other atoms, there would still not be enough electrons to make them stable. Metals also do not form covalent bonds. Metals usually only have one two or three valence electrons with which to make the atoms stable.

How, then, do metals form bonds? The best theory so far seems to be the free electron theory. According to this theory, thousands of atoms join together. The electrons of these atoms move around freely to form stable atoms. This theory is called metallic bonding. It also explains why metals conduct electricity so well. The free movement of the electrons is what helps conduct electricity and give metal its shiny appearance.

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