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5e. Comparing and contrasting the properties of metals and non-metals

Doc Brown's Chemistry: Chemical Bonding and structure GCSE level, IGCSE, O, IB, AS, A level US grade 9-12 level Revision Notes

Contrasting metals and non-metals

  • The bonding in non-metals is covalent, either producing small gaseous (e.g. hydrogen, H2), liquid (e.g. bromine Br2), or solid molecules (e.g. sulfur, S8) or giant covalent structures carbon Cn - diamond or graphite where n is a very big number!).

  • Since the bonding is neither metallic (or ionic), they have different structures, so, not surprisingly, the properties of non-metals are usually significantly different e.g.

    • Excluding boron, carbon and silicon (giant covalent structures), most non-metals have relatively low melting points and boiling points - weak intermolecular forces between the molecules, rather than strong metallic or ionic bonds.

    • Solid non-metals look dull, not sonorous when struck - don't ring like metals do, more brittle than metals, have lower densities and poor conductors of heat and electricity compared to metals.

    • The main chemical difference is:

      • non-metals in the top-right of the periodic table, tend to gain electrons to form negative ions (anions) with a full outer shell of electrons

      • and metals at the bottom and left of the periodic table lose electrons to form positive ions (cations).

      • Just check this out to the left and right of the black zig-zag line - though some elements near the zig-zag line can show mixed characteristics and are described as semi-metals or metalloids.

      • Reactivity of metals - relate to bonding model xref reactivity page.






What next?

Sub-index: Part 5 Metallic Bonding structure and properties of metals


Index for ALL chemical bonding and structure notes


Perhaps of interest?

Overview of the Periodic Table

How can metals be made more useful? (useful links)


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