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Free electrons in metals

  1. Dec 6, 2016 #1
    I would like to ask how free electrons make metals conduct heat and electricity? Metals seem dull, their surfaces are shiny and reflect the light? So are these properties also related to free electrons?

    I don't know true word for dull but it might mean the light cannot go through a dull object.

    Thank you.
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 6, 2016 #2

    Simon Bridge

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    afaik: "dull" is not a technical term in physics ... used informally, it usually means "uninterestiing" or, in this context, "not shiny".
    Objects that block light at some wavelengths are "opaque" to those wavelengths.

    "free electrons" in a metal are those that are shared by all the atoms in the crystal ... electrons have very low mass, so they are easily made to move about, and respond easily to each other's electric fields... this makes the motion disordered or random (seen what happens if you get multiball when you already have multiball in a pinball game? Random motion is called "heat". You should be able to work out the rest.

    Shinyness - being good reflectors - is a characteristic of metals that is closely related to the abundance of free electrons: yes.
    Pretty much all the macroscopic surface properties of any solid is due to the electrons closest to the surface.
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