In our last article we talked about what electrical insulation is. If you haven’t seen it yet, check it out by clicking here. Today we want to answer the question in detail: are metals electrical conductors or electrical insulators? Keep reading to know the answer!
Before answering directly, we want to talk a little bit about electrical conductors and electrical insulators.
Conductors and insulators are electrical materials that behave in opposite ways with respect to the passage of electrical current. That is, one is contrary to the other.
While conductors allow electrons to move, insulators make it difficult to move, that is, the passage of electricity.
It is the same as saying that the conductors conduct the loads, or facilitate their passage, and that the insulators isolate it.
This happens due to the atomic structure of the substances, or rather, the electrons that the materials present in their valence layer.
Over electrical conductors, electric charges move more freely in them due to the free electrons present in their valence shell.
The binding of free electrons to the atomic nucleus is very weak. Thus, these electrons tend to be donated, move and spread, facilitating the passage of electricity.
In electrical insulators, also called dielectrics, there is the absence or little presence of free electrons.
This causes the electrons of the insulators to be strongly linked to the nucleus, which inhibits its movement.
Examples of electrical insulators are rubber, styrofoam, wool, wood, plastic, paper, glass.
In addition to insulators and electrical conductors, there are also electrical semiconductors. These behave as a conductor or as an insulator depending on the physical conditions.
The most common examples of semiconductors are silicon and germanium.
After all, are metals electrical conductors or electrical insulators?
Given this explanation of electrical insulators, conductors and semiconductors, then, let us answer the title of this article: are metals electrical conductors or electrical insulators?
And the answer is: metals are electrical conductors. Some examples are: copper (widely used in the manufacture of electrical wires), iron, gold, silver, among others.
Metals are classified among solid conductors. These are the ones that are characterized by the movement of free electrons and the strong tendency to donate electrons.
In addition to solid conductors, there are liquids, also known as electrolytic conductors, their characteristic is that they have positive (cations) and negative (anions) charges. This movement, in opposite directions, creates the electric current.
And we also have gaseous conductors, or third-class conductors, with movement of cations and anions. But, unlike liquid conductors, energy is produced by shock between charges and not in isolation.
The metals that are the best electrical conductors are silver and copper. Silver is the best conductor of electricity, as it contains more mobile atoms (free electrons).
However, silver is more expensive than other materials and is not normally used. Unless necessary for specialized equipment, such as satellites or circuit boards.
Copper is less conductive than silver, but it is cheaper and is commonly used as an effective conductor in household appliances.
Well, we hope to have answered clearly whether metals are electrical conductors or electrical insulators. We invite you to learn more about our products and services and always keep an eye on the news here on our website!