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

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Part 4 Giant covalent structures and other big molecules

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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.

See A full discussion on comparing metals, semi-metals and metals

What next?

Recommend next:

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

5a. Metals and their position in the Periodic Table of elements

5b. The chemical bonding in metals - giant lattice structure

5c. Explaining the properties of metals using the metallic bonding model

5d. Alloys - improved design and problems using metals e.g. fatigue and corrosion

Perhaps of interest for further study?

Index for ALL chemical bonding and structure notes

Overview of the Periodic Table (GCSE/IGCSE level)

How can metals be made more useful? (GCSE/IGCSE/A level)

Transition Metals Revision Notes (GCSE/IGCSE level)

3d block Transition Metals Chemistry (Advanced A Level Notes)

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