Is Xenon a Metal? (Explained)

No, xenon is not a metal. It is a chemical element with the symbol Xe and atomic number 54, and belongs to the noble gas group on the periodic table. Like other noble gases, xenon is a nonmetal and has a low reactivity with other elements. 1

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: Is Xenon a Metal?

  • Xenon is a nonmetal and belongs to the noble gas group on the periodic table.
  • Xenon is classified as a nonmetal because it has a low melting and boiling point, poor electrical conductivity, lacks metallic luster, forms covalent compounds, and does not have metallic bonding.
  • Xenon is different from other nonmetals because it is an inert gas, has a high atomic mass, is used in lighting and imaging, and has isotopes with interesting properties.

Explanation: Why is xenon a nonmetal?

Xenon is a nonmetal because it does not have the characteristic physical and chemical properties of metals.

Metals generally have high melting and boiling points, high electrical conductivity, and are malleable and ductile. 2

However, xenon has a low boiling and melting point, and is a poor conductor of electricity. It also lacks the ability to form positive ions, which is a characteristic feature of metals.

Instead, xenon typically forms stable compounds with other elements, such as halogens, which is a property of nonmetals. 3 4

Therefore, based on its physical and chemical properties, xenon is classified as a nonmetal in the periodic table of elements.

Properties of xenon that classify it as a nonmetal

Here are some properties of Xenon that classify it as a nonmetal:

  • Low melting and boiling point: Xenon has a low melting point of -111.75°C and a low boiling point of -108.1°C. This is a characteristic property of nonmetals, as most nonmetals have relatively low melting and boiling points compared to metals. 5
  • Poor electrical conductivity: Xenon is a poor conductor of electricity in its standard state. This is because nonmetals generally have low electrical conductivity due to the absence of mobile electrons that can carry an electric current.
  • Lack of metallic luster: Xenon is a colorless and odorless gas that lacks the characteristic metallic luster that is present in metals. Nonmetals typically have a dull appearance and do not reflect light in the same way as metals.
  • Forms covalent compounds: Xenon typically forms stable compounds with other elements, such as halogens, through covalent bonding. This is a property of nonmetals, which tend to form covalent compounds rather than ionic compounds.
  • No metallic bonding: Xenon does not have metallic bonding, which is a characteristic of metals. In metallic bonding, atoms of a metal share their electrons freely, which gives rise to the metallic properties of high electrical conductivity, ductility, and malleability.

Overall, based on these properties, xenon is classified as a nonmetal in the periodic table of elements.

How is xenon different from other nonmetals?

Xenon has a few unique properties that distinguish it from other nonmetals:

  • It is an inert gas: Xenon is a noble gas, which means that it is relatively unreactive with other elements. This is because it has a complete outer shell of electrons and does not easily gain or lose electrons to form chemical bonds. This makes xenon highly stable and unreactive, unlike other nonmetals such as oxygen and chlorine, which are highly reactive. 6
  • It has a high atomic mass: Xenon has an atomic mass of 131.29, which is much higher than most other nonmetals. This gives it unique physical properties, such as a higher density and higher boiling point compared to other nonmetals. 7
  • It is used in lighting and imaging: Xenon is used in certain types of lighting, such as high-intensity discharge lamps, due to its ability to produce a bright white light. It is also used in medical imaging, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), as a contrast agent. 8 9
  • It has isotopes with interesting properties: Xenon has several stable isotopes, including xenon-129, which is used in nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy. Xenon-136 is also interesting because it is believed to have been produced in supernova explosions and can be used to study the history of the universe. 10

These unique properties of xenon make it an interesting element with a wide range of applications and uses, and distinguish it from other nonmetals in the periodic table.

Further reading

Is Barium a Metal or Nonmetal?
Is Gold a Metal or Nonmetal?
Is Mercury a Metal or Nonmetal?
Is Lead a Metal or Nonmetal?
Is Bismuth a Metal, Nonmetal or Metalloid?

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  1. Xenon. (n.d.). Xenon.
  2. Properties of metals, metalloids and nonmetals – Wikipedia. (2022, February 1). Properties of Metals, Metalloids and Nonmetals – Wikipedia.,_metalloids_and_nonmetals
  3. 24.9: Halogens- Reactive Chemicals with High Electronegativity. (2019, July 1). Chemistry LibreTexts.
  4. Zupan, M. (n.d.). Xenon halide halogenations. Halides, Pseudo-Halides and Azides: Vol. 1 (1983), 657–679.
  5. Xenon – Element information, properties and uses | Periodic Table. (n.d.). Xenon – Element Information, Properties and Uses | Periodic Table.
  6. Xenon – Wikipedia. (2010, May 6). Xenon – Wikipedia.
  7. P. (n.d.). Xenon. Xenon | Xe – PubChem.
  9. Zhou, X., Graziani, D., & Pines, A. (2009, October 6). Hyperpolarized xenon NMR and MRI signal amplification by gas extraction. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 106(40), 16903–16906.
  10. Wisser, D., & Hartmann, M. (2020, October). 129 Xe NMR on Porous Materials: Basic Principles and Recent Applications. Advanced Materials Interfaces, 8(4), 2001266.

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