Metallic Bonding

Topics: Electron, Electron configuration, Atom Pages: 4 (1674 words) Published: March 13, 2011
METALLIC BONDINGThis page introduces the bonding in metals. It explains how the metallic bond arises and why its strength varies from metal to metal.What is a metallic bond?Metallic bonding in sodiumMetals tend to have high melting points and boiling points suggesting strong bonds between the atoms. Even a metal like sodium (melting point 97.8°C) melts at a considerably higher temperature than the element (neon) which precedes it in the Periodic Table.Sodium has the electronic structure 1s22s22p63s1. When sodium atoms come together, the electron in the 3s atomic orbital of one sodium atom shares space with the corresponding electron on a neighbouring atom to form a molecular orbital - in much the same sort of way that a covalent bond is formed.The difference, however, is that each sodium atom is being touched by eight other sodium atoms - and the sharing occurs between the central atom and the 3s orbitals on all of the eight other atoms. And each of these eight is in turn being touched by eight sodium atoms, which in turn are touched by eight atoms - and so on and so on, until you have taken in all the atoms in that lump of sodium.All of the 3s orbitals on all of the atoms overlap to give a vast number of molecular orbitals which extend over the whole piece of metal. There have to be huge numbers of molecular orbitals, of course, because any orbital can only hold two electrons.The electrons can move freely within these molecular orbitals, and so each electron becomes detached from its parent atom. The electrons are said to be delocalised. The metal is held together by the strong forces of attraction between the positive nuclei and the delocalised electrons.This is sometimes described as "an array of positive ions in a sea of electrons".If you are going to use this view, beware! Is a metal made up of atoms or ions? It is made of atoms.Each positive centre in the diagram represents all the rest of the atom apart from the outer electron, but that electron hasn't...
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