MadSci Network: Chemistry

Re: Why do metals usually have high densities?

Date: Mon Nov 27 12:37:00 2000
Posted By: Kevin Wright, Secondary School Teacher, Head of Science, Chemistry graduate., Mary Hare School for the Deaf
Area of science: Chemistry
ID: 974063516.Ch

Thank you for this question. Metal atoms are generally much closer 
together than atoms of non-metals. We describe the structure of metals 
as “close-packed”. The atoms are held together by a “sea of electrons”, 
which keeps them very close, although it allows the rows of atoms to slide 
past each other (hence metals are malleable and ductile). 
Non-metals on the other hand are often made of small, separate molecules. 
The forces between the molecules in the solid are weak and therefore the 
distances between particles are greater. This makes non-metals less dense.

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