Answer to Question #10241 in Inorganic Chemistry for Leah
Conductivity in a metal results from the metal atoms having
Conductivity in a metal results from the metals having highly mobile electrons in the valence shell.
A metal consists of a lattice of atoms, each with a shell of electrons. This is also known as a positive ionic lattice. The outer electrons are free to dissociate from their parent atoms and travel through the lattice, creating a 'sea' of electrons, making the metal a conductor. When an electrical potential difference (a voltage) is applied across the metal, the electrons drift from one end of the conductor to the other under the influence of the electric field. Near room temperatures, the thermal motion of ions is the primary source of scattering of electrons (due to destructive interference of free electron waves on non-correlating potentials of ions), and is thus the prime cause of metal resistance. Imperfections of lattice also contribute into resistance, although their contribution in pure metals is negligible. The larger the cross-sectional area of the conductor, the more electrons are available to carry the current, so the lower the resistance. The longer the conductor, the more scattering events occur in each electron's path through the material, so the higher the resistance. Different materials also affect the resistance.