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Metallic bonds

The nature of the metallic bond

The structure of a metallic bond is quite different from covalent and ionic bonds. In a metal bond, the valence electrons are delocalised, meaning that an atom's electrons do not stay around that one nucleus. In a metallic bond, the positive atomic nuclei (sometimes called the 'atomic kernels') are surrounded by a sea of delocalised electrons which are attracted to the nuclei (Figure 1).

Definition 1: Metallic bond
Metallic bonding is the electrostatic attraction between the positively charged atomic nuclei of metal atoms and the delocalised electrons in the metal.
Figure 1: Positive atomic nuclei (+) surrounded by delocalised electrons ()
Figure 1 (CG11C1_022.png)

Activity: Building models

Using coloured balls and sticks (or any other suitable materials) build models of each type of bonding. Think about how to represent each kind of bonding. For example, covalent bonding could be represented by simply connecting the balls with sticks to represent the molecules, while for ionic bonding you may wish to construct part of the crystal lattice. Do some research on types of crystal lattices (although the section on ionic bonding only showed the crystal lattice for sodium chloride, many other types of lattices exist) and try to build some of these. Share your findings with your class and compare notes to see what types of crystal lattices they found. How would you show metallic bonding?

You should spend some time doing this activity as it will really help you to understand how atoms combine to form molecules and what the differences are between the types of bonding.

Figure 2
Khan academy video on bonding - 1

Chemical bonding

  1. Give two examples of everyday objects that contain..
    1. covalent bonds
    2. ionic bonds
    3. metallic bonds
    Click here for the solution
  2. Complete the table which compares the different types of bonding:
    Table 1
     CovalentIonicMetallic
    Types of atoms involved   
    Nature of bond between atoms   
    Melting Point (high/low)   
    Conducts electricity? (yes/no)   
    Other properties   
    Click here for the solution
  3. Complete the table below by identifying the type of bond (covalent, ionic or metallic) in each of the compounds:
    Table 2
    Molecular formulaType of bond
    H2SO4H2SO4 
    FeSFeS 
    NaINaI 
    MgCl2MgCl2 
    ZnZn 
    Click here for the solution
  4. Which of these substances will conduct electricity most effectively? Give a reason for your answer.
    Click here for the solution
  5. Use your knowledge of the different types of bonding to explain the following statements:
    1. Swimming during an electric storm (i.e. where there is lightning) can be very dangerous.
    2. Most jewellery items are made from metals.
    3. Plastics are good insulators.
    Click here for the solution

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