How does heat conduction in metals differ from non-metals?

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Pillay asked the Naked Scientists:
In terms of atoms, how is heat conduction in metals different to heat conduction in non-metals?

What do you think?
« Last Edit: 29/01/2012 11:35:56 by _system »


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Metals are usually conductors of electricity and non metals insulators.  Electrical conductors have free electrons in their conduction bands and these are much more mobile than the atoms themselves and help with the transfer of heat energy through the material so electrical conductors are usually better conductors of heat than non metals.  That is not the whole story because the rigidity of the material and the availability of vibration bands in the crystal structure also plays a part in thermal conductivity.
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