1. You’ve heard it before, the magic number? 8 (or 2).

We’ve seen from Ionic Bonding that metals lose electrons to achieve stability, forming ionic compounds with non-metals. That’s all true, BUT, metals also can exist in a stable configuration via metallic bonding.  I know, what you’re thinking…

Yes, there are going to be many of these moments in Chemistry.

2. The tale of the unwanted electron.

The atoms in a pure metal are packed tightly in regular layers. In this formation, the outer electrons of the metal atoms separate from the atom itself. This process is known as delocalisation. These electrons are able to move freely within the metal.

Left: Just like a pimple, these metal atoms would readily pop out their valence electrons.
Right: Neither atoms in metallic bonding wishes to ‘take in’ any electrons.

3. Metals love the sea… of delocalised electrons.

After delocalising their valence electrons, the metal atoms become ions. We refer to the delocalised electrons the ‘sea of delocalised electrons’. The metalllic bond is hence the attraction between the positive metal ions and the sea of delocalised electrons.

Left: What we think the sea of electrons look like.
Right: A better diagram (one for the exams definitely!)

These strong bonds mean that metals usually have a high melting and boiling point. With that said, metals that delocalise more electrons to the sea, tend to have stronger metallic bonds as well.

4. They are brilliant conductors too!

They’ll definitely give Mozart a run for his money! The free-moving delocalised electrons carry electrical charges through the metal, allowing metals to conduct electricity. This is why metals are commonly used for wires in your households.

5. Wanna watch them dance? Metals do a mean slide.

Speaking of wires, there’s another reason why we use metals, because they are malleable and ductile. In other words, we can change the shape of metal sheets and rods pretty easily.

Due to the regular arrangement of the metal ions, the layers of metal ions within a metal slide over each other easily when a force is applied. Just a few strikes and you can see them dance!

Metal ions slide past each other easily when a force is applied, making them malleable and ductile.

We’ll learn more about these amazing elements in the topic Metals, so you know where to go.