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Why do pure metals conduct heat better than other metals?
- xiayi (age 13)
The heat conduction in metals comes almost entirely from moving
electrons. These can carry energy as well as electric charge, so they
give both the heat conduction and the electrical conduction.
How easily the electrons flow depends in part on how far they
can move without bumping into something and changing directions. You
might think that the answer would always be 'not too far' since the
electrons would bump into each atom they encounter. Actually, the
electrons travel as waves which can slosh past many atoms without
changing directions. However, if there is uneveness in the pattern of
atoms the electron waves will bounce off of those irregularities. Metal
alloys have uneven patterns of their different types of atoms, so the
electrons in them don't travel around as rapidly as do those in pure
(republished on 07/27/06)
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