• Written By Riya_I
  • Last Modified 18-10-2022

Physical Properties of Metals and Non-metals: Definition

img-icon

Physical Properties of Metals and Non-metals: Each of the chemical elements discovered so far has a set of distinguishing characteristics. Based on their properties, we know that these elements are primarily classed as metals or non-metals. Physical and chemical properties are included in this list. In other words, metals and non-metals differ in their physical and chemical properties. In this article, let’s discuss everything about the physical properties of metals and non-metals.

Physical Properties of Metals and Non-metals: Overview

Let us look at some of the physical properties of metals and non-metals:

Physical Properties of Metals: Definition

Let us discuss the physical properties of metals in detail.

1. Malleability

Some materials are capable of being hammered into extremely thin sheets. The name for this property is malleability. The majority of metals are malleable by nature. Gold and silver are the most malleable metals among these.
Aluminium is used for making aluminium foils because of its malleability.

2. Ductility

Some materials can be drawn into very thin wires. This property is called ductility. Generally, most metals are ductile in nature. All metals are not equally ductile. Out of all the metals, gold and silver are the most ductile. It is said that \(100\;{\rm{mg}}\) of silver can be drawn into a thin wire of around \(200\) meters in length. Similarly, a gold piece of the size \(50\) paisa coin can be stretched into a \(10\;{\rm{km}}\) long lengthy wire. Copper is used in making wires because of its ductile nature.

3. Thermal and Electrical Conductivity

Metals are generally good conductors of heat and electricity. Silver is the best conductor of heat and electricity and lead is the poorest. The kitchen utensils found in our home are made of zinc, copper and aluminium. This is because these metals are good conductors of heat.

All metals are good conductors of electricity because they contain free electrons. These free electrons conduct electric currents. Silver and copper are the best conductors of electricity, followed by gold, alAll metals are good conductors of electricity because they contain free electrons. These free electrons conduct electric currents. Silver and copper are the best conductors of electricity, followed by gold, aluminium and tungsten. The metals like mercury and iron show greater resistance to the current flow. However, the electrical conductivity of the metals decreases with the temperature rise. This is because, with an increase in temperature, the vibration of core electrons increases, which hinders the flow of electrons.

4. Lustre

The property of a material to shine when light is incident on it is known as lustre. Generally, metals are lustrous in nature, and they can be polished too.

5. Tensile Strength

The resistance of a material to longitudinal stress is known as tensile strength. Generally, metals have high tensile strength because of the strong metallic bonds present in them.

6. Density

Generally, metals have a very high density. However, the exception is there that certain metals like sodium and potassium have very few densities. Those less dense metals are generally called light metals.

7. Hardness

Metals are generally very hard. They cannot be cut or compressed so easily. However, metals like sodium and potassium are soft so that they can be cut using a knife.  They are hence called soft metals.

8. Melting and Boiling Point

Metals have high melting and boiling points. However, there are exceptions. That is, sodium and potassium melt and boil at low temperatures. When metals like gallium and cesium are placed on the palm, they melt instantly.

9. Sonority

Metals generally produce sound when we hit them. This property is known as sonority.

10. Electronic Configuration

Metals generally have \(1,2\) or \(3\) electrons in their outermost shell. For example, the electronic configurations of some metals are given below:

MetalElectronic Configuration
Sodium\(2, 8, 1\)
Magnesium\(2, 8, 2\)
Aluminium\(2, 8, 3\)

11. Electropositive Character

Metals are highly electropositive. That is, metals have a high tendency to lose electrons and become positive ions (cations) to acquire the stable configuration of the nearest noble gas.

12. State

Metals are generally solids at room temperature. An exception is there that; the metal mercury exists as a liquid at room temperature.

13. Alloy Formation

Metals can combine to make alloys. That is, metals can combine with one or more other metals or non-metals to form a homogenous combination. An alloy is a term for a composition like this. Brass, for example, is a copper-zinc alloy.

Physical Properties of Non-metals: Definition

Let us discuss the physical properties of non-metals in detail.

1. Malleability and Ductility

Non-metals are generally non-malleable and non-ductile. This is because non-metals are generally brittle and cannot be used to make sheets or wires.

2. Thermal and Electrical Conductivity

Non-metals are generally poor conductors of heat and electricity. However, there is an exception that graphite is a non-metal which can conduct electricity. This is because of the presence of free electrons in the graphite.

3. Lustre

Non-metals generally do not have the lustre and cannot be polished. An exception is that the non-metals like iodine and graphite have a natural shine on them. That is, they are lustrous in nature.

4. Tensile Strength

The tensile strength of non-metals is generally low. Because of this reason, non-metals can be broken easily.

5. Density

Non-metals are generally light, and they have very low densities too.

6. Melting and Boiling Points

Generally, non-metals have low melting and boiling points. However, there is an exception that graphite, which is a non-metal, has a very high melting point.

7. Hardness

The solid non-metals are generally hard in nature. But diamond, which is an allotropic form of carbon, is very hard. In fact, it is the hardest substance known.

8. Sonority

Unlike metals, non-metals will not produce any sound when they are hit together. Therefore, they are non-sonorous in nature.

9. Electronic Configuration

A non-metal atom has \(4, 5, 6, 7\) or \(8\) electrons in its outermost shell. These electrons are not free or mobile in nature. This is the reason why non-metals do not conduct electricity.

For example, the electronic configuration of different non-metals can be given as,

Non-metalElectronic Configuration
Carbon\(2, 4\)
Nitrogen\(2, 5\)
Oxygen\(2, 6\)
Fluorine\(2, 7\)
Neon\(2, 8\)

10. Electronegative Character

All the non-metals except hydrogen are electronegative. That is, they have the tendency to gain electrons and become negatively charged ions.

11. State

Non-metals exist in all three states of matter. That is, at ordinary temperature, non-metals can be found as solid, liquid or gas. For example, the non-metals like carbon, sulphur, phosphorous and iodine exists as solids, the non-metal like bromine exists as a liquid and the non-metals like hydrogen, nitrogen, and chlorine exist as gases.

Summary of Physical Properties of Metals and Non-metals

We are now familiar with the physical properties of metals and non-metals. Metals are the elements that conduct heat and electricity and are malleable and ductile. They are also lustrous, hard, strong, heavy and sonorous too. Non-metals are the elements that do not conduct electricity and heat and are neither malleable nor ductile. They are brittle, non-lustrous, soft, brittle and non-sonorous. By looking at these properties explained in the article, we can now differentiate metals and non-metals easily.

Also Check,

Chemical Properties of Metals
Uses of Metals and Non-metals

FAQs on Physical Properties of Metals and Non-metals

Let us look at some of the physical properties of metals and non-metals:

Q.1. What are the 5 physical properties of metals?
Ans: The five physical properties of metals include malleability, ductility, lustre, sonority, thermal conductivity and density.

Q.2. Is iodine a metal?
Ans: No, iodine is a non-metal.

Q.3. What are the physical and chemical properties of metals?
Ans: The physical properties of the metals include malleability, ductility, lustre, sonority, density, thermal and electrical conductivity, melting and boiling point, hardness, etc. The chemical properties of metals include the reaction of metals with different substances such as oxygen, water, acids, bases, etc.

Q.4. What are the 4 physical properties of non-metals?
Ans: Non-metals are entirely different from metals. They are non-malleable, non-ductile, non-lustrous and poor conductors of heat and electricity.

Q.5. Is mercury a solid?
Ans: No, mercury is a liquid at room temperature.

We hope this article on physical properties of metals and non-metals is helpful to you. If you have any queries related to this page or in general about metal and non-metals physical properties, ping us through the comment box below and we will get back to you as soon possible.

Practice Metals & Non Metals Questions with Hints & Solutions