Do you remember ever learning about electrons in school? If not, here’s your refresher. Metals contain electrons which are electronically charged particles that move around. Each time an electrical charge comes into contact with the metal, the electrons will scatter and get out of the way so that the electricity can pass through it. Hence why metal is a conductor of electricity.
The question is which metal works best to conduct electricity? This can be determined by discovering the metal with the highest electron mobility. Let’s find out what metal that is.
Factors the Impact on Conductivity
While the number of electrons matters greatly when it comes to understanding conductivity, there are other factors that play a part in determining this:
Temperature – Temperature plays a role in conductivity. For instance, metals in colder temperatures will often be less conducive.
Impurities – Oxidization, rust, corrosion, and the like will reduce a metal’s conductivity.
Processed level – Processed metals have lower conductivity than pure metals. The more processed, the worse the conductivity.
Choosing the best metal for your application should involve taking these things into consideration – especially how they will react in your application.
Pure Silver is the Best Conductor of Electricity
Pure silver is the best conductor of electricity. It has the highest number of electrons and it allows electricity to easily pass through. And, remember – the greater level of electrons, the greater its conductivity. So, why isn’t silver the most often used metal in everyday applications?
Cost plays a big role. Silver is expensive. And using it will drive up the cost of all the applications – including things like household products and appliances. Not to mention that silver tarnishes – and this will impact the metal’s conductivity level. In other words, although it may be the best conductor of electricity, it isn’t the most ideal metal to use.
Other Metal Conductors
Because pure silver isn’t the most ideal for applications, it is important to consider other metals. Truth be told, there are a few that work well.
Copper: Copper is one of the most commonly used metals for conducting electricity. Like pure silver, it has a lot of electrons – but it is much more affordable. It is commonly used in many household products and things we use every day. Copper holds up to soldering and being wrapped into thicker wires, too. But it can corrode over time which will reduce its ability to handle electricity effectively.
Aluminum: Aluminum is another option that works just as well as copper – and it’s more affordable, too. While it is used for certain products, it isn’t always the best option thanks to oxidation. This makes it resistant to the electrical connection, often causing the connection to overheat.
Gold is another highly conductive metal that doesn’t tarnish, rust, or corrode. However, its cost makes it a less-than-ideal option.
Steel and Brass
Steel, an alloy of iron, is very durable, but also very flexible. This makes it a good choice for large structures, but not necessarily good for everyday use. And brass (another alloy) bends easily and molds well to fit small machines and tiny parts. And it doesn’t corrode very easily like some other metals. Brass is also very conductive, cheap, and holds its value.
Atlas Bronze is a leading distributor and supplier of Bronze, Copper, Brass and Iron products. They supply brass bronze from their warehouse located in Trenton, New Jersey and a few other depots throughout the country.