Yes, iron is a conductor of electricity. This is because iron has metallic bonding, which allows its valence electrons to move freely throughout the metal’s lattice structure. 1 These delocalized electrons are responsible for the metal’s ability to conduct electricity by carrying electrical current.
Well, this was just a simple answer. But there are few more things to know about this topic which will make your concept super clear.
So let’s dive right into it.
Key Takeaways: Why is Iron a Conductor?
- Iron is a conductor of electricity because it has free electrons that are loosely bound to its atomic structure.
- The temperature has a significant effect on the electrical conductivity of iron. As the temperature increases, the conductivity of iron decreases.
- The electrical conductivity of iron decreases with increasing temperature because of the increase in collisions at higher temperatures, which disrupts the orderly flow of electrons.
Explanation: Why is iron a conductor?
Iron is a conductor of electricity because it has free electrons that are loosely bound to its atomic structure. These free electrons are able to move easily through the material, allowing electric current to flow. 2
In more detail, the conductivity of a material depends on its electronic structure. In iron, the outermost shell of its atoms contains two electrons, while the inner shells are filled with tightly bound electrons.
However, the outermost shell is not completely filled, leaving some electrons free to move. 3 These free electrons are not strongly attracted to any particular atom and are able to move throughout the material when subjected to an electric field.
When a voltage is applied across a piece of iron, these free electrons are pushed by the electric field in one direction, creating an electric current. The presence of these mobile electrons makes iron a good conductor of electricity.
However, it is important to note that the conductivity of iron is not as high as that of some other metals like copper or silver, due to the specific arrangement of its atoms and the mobility of its free electrons. 4
How does the temperature affect the electrical conductivity of iron?
The temperature has a significant effect on the electrical conductivity of iron. As the temperature increases, the conductivity of iron decreases. 5
As the temperature increases, the atoms in the iron lattice gain more thermal energy and vibrate more vigorously. This increased atomic movement leads to more frequent collisions between the free electrons and the lattice atoms.
These collisions scatter the electrons and impede their ability to move freely, resulting in a decrease in electrical conductivity.
The increase in collisions at higher temperatures disrupts the orderly flow of electrons, making it more difficult for them to carry electric current through the material. Therefore, the electrical conductivity of iron decreases with increasing temperature.
It’s important to note that this behavior is true for most metals, including iron, and is a result of the interaction between thermal energy and the movement of free electrons within the lattice.
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- Metallic bonding and the structure of iron | 14-16 years. (2023, June 13). RSC Education. https://edu.rsc.org/lesson-plans/metallic-bonding-and-the-structure-of-iron-14-16-years/92.article
- Electron Configuration for Iron (Fe, Fe2+, and Fe3+). (n.d.). Electron Configuration for Iron (Fe, Fe2+, and Fe3+). https://terpconnect.umd.edu/~wbreslyn/chemistry/electron-configurations/configurationIron-Fe.html
- Iron – Element information, properties and uses | Periodic Table. (n.d.). Iron – Element Information, Properties and Uses | Periodic Table. https://www.rsc.org/periodic-table/element/26/iron
- Conductivity. (n.d.). Conductivity. https://www.lehigh.edu/~amb4/wbi/kwardlow/conductivity.htm
- Camlab.co.uk https://sitefiles.camlab.co.uk/Tech_papers/TempCondMeas.pdf