Are you looking for the idea behind why silver is a good conductor of electricity? Before heading towards our main topic, we should first recall the basic science concepts! For that, let’s learn a bit about metals in the periodic table, which includes silver. Every atom has different shells according to its atomic number. The number of electrons in a valence shell determines if an element is a metal or non-metal. Most of the time, good conductors consist of only one or two outer electrons.
Role of Electron
An atom is the smallest particle which is composed of electrons, protons, and neutrons. Out of these three particles, an electron is the tiniest, which always revolves around the nucleus. When we talk about metals, they have a series of bands called valence bands, conduction bands, and a bandgap.
The phenomenon behind why silver is a good conductor of electricity lies here! When an electron excites, it attains sufficient energy from valence and conduction bands, which ultimately leads to conductivity. We will explain it further after grabbing the idea of conductors, non-conductors, and conductivity.
Differentiate Between Conductors & Non-Conductors
Conductors are all those elements that allow electricity to pass through them. Electricity flows when there is an overlapping of the valence band and conduction band to excite electrons out of it. Some common examples include silver, iron, copper, gold, brass, saltwater, etc.
On the contrary, elements that do not allow electricity to pass through them are called non-conductors or insulators. There is no overlapping between valence and conduction band due to an adequate distance between the two, for instance, ceramics, paper, plastic, fabrics, etc.
What is Electrical Conductivity?
To understand electrical conductivity, you should know the concept behind it, which is conductivity. The criterion by which electricity can travel through an element is its conductivity. It can be useful, such as by silver, which shows low resistance while shifting from one band to another.
Electrical conductivity allows electric charges to move through a material by excitation. Silvers are known to be the best electric conductors and sometimes are taken as a reference to compare other metals.
Reasons Behind Silver Being a Good Electric Conductor
Silver is a metal that falls under group 11 in the periodic table. It means silver possesses only one electron in its valence shell, making itself more obvious to shift and conduct electricity. The other important factors behind its good conductivity are the electronic configuration and crystal structure.
The electron in the outer shell of silver is far from the nucleus, excluding it from altering its electrical conductivity. It helps silver to conduct electricity by overlapping the conduction and valence bands. Remember that any metal can be a good conductor if there is no function of the nucleus in attracting the valence electrons towards it.
Applications of Silver: These days, silver is widely utilized in electric circuits and batteries.
Factors Affecting the Electrical Conductivity in Silvers
Addition of Impurities: It is the freak of nature that adding impurities can lessen the actual effect of metals. So is the case with silver! An impure silver has much lesser conductivity than a pure one. For example, an oxidized or bar of sterling silver is not so good in conductivity as pure silver.
Interference of Outer Electromagnetic Field: Silver can produce its own electromagnetic field where the electric field is perpendicular to magnetic. Interference of outer electromagnetic fields can lessen the conductivity effect of silver or any other good conductor.
Temperature: It has an inverse relation with silver. It means increasing the temperature can enhance metal’s resistivity, hence decreasing its conductivity.
Frequency: It is defined as the number of oscillation cycles that a flowing current covers per second. Whenever electricity passes through silver, it oscillates the electrons in it. Sometimes, an increase in frequency can lessen the conductivity effect.
Change in the Structure: As we have discussed crystal structure of metals has a better effect on their electrical conduction. So even if there is a slight change in silver’s composition, it can influence its conductivity.
Reach a Verdict
After presenting the basic theory behind a conductivity and all the key factors, we hope that the confusion is all clear. Now is the right time to understand why silver is a good conductor of electricity before you move towards another concept. There are other good conductors of electricity that are all metals, but silver ranks the top position. All because of its nature to move freely and easily from one band to another.