Metallic Bonding and Properties of Metals

Metals form a giant lattice structure, which is arranged in regular layers of positive metal ions and a sea of delocalised electrons.

In metals, the outer electrons are not attached to any individual metal atom. This is why we say they are delocalised, which means free.

Despite the positive metal ions and negative electrons, metals do not form ionic bonds. Instead, they form metallic bonds, which arise from the electrostatic force of attraction between the positive metal ions and the negative delocalised electrons. This bond is what holds the metal atoms together.

Properties of Metals

  • Metals are malleable, meaning they can easily be shaped. This is due to the ability of the metal’s layers of atoms to slide over each other. Therefore it is possible to bend and hammer the metal into various shapes.
  • Metallic bonds are very strong, so it takes a large amount of energy to break these bonds. As a result, metals have high melting and boiling points. All metals are solid at room temperature, except mercury, which is a liquid.
  • The delocalised electrons can move freely throughout the metal lattice, carrying electric charge and thermal energy. So, metals are great conductors of electricity and heat.
  • Metals are generally insoluble in water. However, some metals will react with water to form metal hydroxides and hydrogen gas.