Q:

Why is copper a good conductor of heat?

A:

Quick Answer

Copper conducts heat well because its atoms contain only one free valence electrons in the outer shell. Elements with a low number of valence electrons transfer heat the best, and copper has only one.

Know More
Why is copper a good conductor of heat?
Credit: Emilian Robert Vicol CC-BY 2.0

Full Answer

Valence electrons move about freely. Just as the impact of a billiard ball striking another billiard ball is greater than when it collides with multiple balls, a single electron imparts significant energy to other electrons. Since copper has only one electron in its outer shell, it transfers a strong repelling energy to electrons with which it collides.

It is the degree of energy within the metal that imparts heat. Since heat increases when the subatomic particles are able to move without resistance throughout the metal, copper is a good conductor of heat. If heat is applied to one end of a cooper wire, it travels quickly to the other end, as the electrons move unimpeded by resistance.

Electrical conductivity is indirectly proportional to resistance a metal has when an electrical field is applied. Conduction is proportional to the current. Copper has a low resistivity measured in ohms. Its conductivity, measured by siemens per meter, is high. Copper is second only to silver in its conductive properties.

Learn more about Thermodynamics
Sources:

Related Questions

  • Q:

    What is a poor conductor of heat?

    A:

    A poor conductor of heat is any material that can not transfer heat. Poor conductors have a low density thus the particles in a given volume of the material are not enough to collide and transfer heat. Examples of poor heat conductors include air, wood, paper, cloth and water.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    Why is wood a poor conductor of heat?

    A:

    Wood is a poor conductor of heat (as well as other forms of energy) because it is covalently bound as a compound. As a result, it does not have the free electrons that scatter about to conduct different forms of energy like metals and other strong conductors do.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    Which metal is the best conductor of heat?

    A:

    Of the elemental metals, silver is the best conductor of heat. It has a thermal conductivity of 235, meaning that it is able to transmit that amount of heat energy a single foot per hour per degree Fahrenheit.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    Why do metals conduct heat?

    A:

    Metals conduct heat because they have free electrons in their atoms. When a metal is subject to heat, the free electrons move, spreading the heat to the nearest atoms. The heat is then transferred throughout the metal.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:

Explore