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Metals and Non-Metals – Definition, Properties, Uses and Applications

  • Last Updated : 05 Oct, 2021

Metals and nonmetals are two types of substances that may be distinguished by their physical and chemical characteristics. Metals are elements that are typically hard due to the presence of a strong metallic connection between the atoms. Non-metals, on the other hand, are often soft components. Metals are defined as elements that have one, two, or three electrons in their valence shell. Non-metals are elements containing 4, 5, 6, or 7 electrons in their outermost shell.

What are Metals?

Metals are substances that are formed naturally below the surface of the Earth. Most of the metals are lustrous, i.e. they are shiny. Metals are made of substances that were never alive. 

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This means that they are inorganic. They are natural compounds of the earth’s crust, which are generally found in the form of metal ores. They are associated with each other and also with other elements. Metals are present in the rocks that are washed up by surface water and groundwater. They also appear in atmospheric dust. They are strong, ductile, malleable and good conductors of heat and electricity. Metals are used in the manufacture of automobiles, satellites, and cooking utensils, among other things. The majority of metals are typically hard. Sodium and potassium are notable exceptions. Knives can be used to cut them. Most metals are solid except mercury which is a liquid metal at room temperature.



Physical Properties of Metals 

  • They are good conductors of heat and electricity and thus they find applications in day to day life like cooking utensils which is made of iron or aluminium as they are good conductors of heat.
  • The capacity of a substance to be drawn into a wire is known as ductility, and it is this property that permits metals to be used as cable wires and for soldering.
  • Malleability is the property of metals that allows them to be beaten into flat sheets. Because of their lightweight and strength, aluminium sheets are employed in the manufacture of aircraft. Metals are thus malleable.
  • Metals produce a deep or ringing sound when struck with another hard object. Thus, they are sonorous.
  • Most of the metals are lustrous, i.e. they are shiny but they can also be polished to have a shiny appearance.

Uses and Applications of Metals

Metals are usually very strong, most durable and highly immune to everyday wear and tear. As such, they need been used in past for tons of things. Even now, with developments in technology and a slew of other factors, metals’ applications have expanded significantly. Metals are even important in the economy.

  1. Construction Industry: Metals are the most component within the housing industry. Iron and steel are amongst the most utilized metals in the construction of buildings and even homes.
  2. Electronics: Metals are utilised to make cables and parts for electrically powered devices and gadgets because they are good conductors of electricity. TVs, cellphones, refrigerators, irons, and computers are just a few examples.
  3. Medicine: Metal elements are required for a variety of functions, including nerve impulse transmission, oxygen flow, enzyme reaction, and so on. To treat particular deficiencies or illnesses, several medicines are combined with metal compounds. Antacids contain metals such as iron, calcium, magnesium, potassium, titanium, and aluminium, which are commonly used in medicine.
  4. Automobiles and Machinery: They are widely employed in the production of machines for industry, agriculture, and farming, as well as autos such as road vehicles, railways, aeroplanes, and rockets. Iron, aluminium, and steel are the most often used metals in this area. The majority of cooking utensils are constructed of metals such as steel, aluminium, and copper. Metals are preferred because of their excellent thermal resistance.
  5. Other uses: These days, most furniture is made of metal. Metals are also employed in the military, where they are used in the production of weapons and ammunition. Galvanizing protects metals from rusting by using certain metals.

What are Non-Metals?

Elements that lack the attributes of metals are called non-metals. 

Non-metals are good insulators of heat and electricity. They are mostly gases and liquid. Some non-metals are solid at room temperatures. E.g. Carbon, sulphur and phosphorus. 

Some notable General Properties of Non-metals are:

  • Non-metals have very low electrical conductivities and are the most important property that distinguishes non-metals from metals.
  • They have high electronegativities. Electronegativity is the concept where atoms have a strong tendency to attract more electrons than they would normally have.
  • Under normal conditions, some non-metals are found as gases, some are found as solids and one is found as liquid i.e. Bromine.
  • Many non-metals exist as liquids or gases which means that non-metals have low melting and boiling points as compared to metals.
  • In their solid state, non-metals tend to be brittle. As a result, they lack the malleability and ductility that metals have.

Physical Properties of Non-Metals

  1. Carbon fibres are used in a range of industries, including sports and music equipment, and is the only non-metals that is ductile.
  2. They are not malleable as they are brittle and break on applying pressure.
  3. They are not lustrous as they do not have any shiny appearance.
  4. Non-metals don’t produce a deep ringing sound when they are hit with another material. Thus, they are not sonorous.
  5. They are also bad conductors of heat and electricity. A notable exception being graphite.

Uses and Applications of Non-Metals

  1. Daily Life: The respiration process is aided by oxygen, which is 21 % by volume. It’s also utilised to make steel and maintain a high temperature during the metal fabrication process. In the hospital, oxygen cylinders are used. As a bleaching chemical, chlorine is effective for eliminating stains and colour patches. Chlorine is used to make a variety of polymers and pesticides. It aids with water filtration. How? Bacteria are killed when chlorine is added to drinking water. For scientific experiments, helium is employed as an inert gas. Weather balloons use it as well. Iodine is used as an antiseptic in the treatment of wounds and cuts, as well as in the treatment of throat infections.
  2. Fertilizers: Nitrogen is found in fertilisers. It aids in the growth of plants. It boosts the plant’s growth rate. Plants can also benefit from non-metallic phosphorus. These two nonmetals are essential for plant growth.
  3. Crackers: Sulphur and phosphorus are used in fireworks.

Sample Questions

Question 1: Define metals and non-metals.

Answer:

Metals are substances that are formed naturally below the surface of the Earth. Elements that lack the attributes of metals are called non-metals. 

Question 2: Write a short note on metals. 



Answer:

Most of the metals are lustrous, i.e. they are shiny. Metals are made of substances that were never alive. This means that they are inorganic. They are natural compounds of earth’s crust, in which they are generally found in the form of metal ores. They are associated with each other and also with other elements. Metals are present in the rocks that are washed up by surface water and groundwater. They also appear in atmospheric dust. They are strong, ductile, malleable and good conductors of heat and electricity. Metals are used in the manufacture of automobiles, satellites, and cooking utensils, among other things. The majority of metals are typically hard. Sodium and potassium are notable exceptions. Knives can be used to cut them. Most metals are solid except mercury which is a liquid metal at room temperature.

Question 3: Define electronegativity. 

Answer:

Electronegativity is the concept where atoms have a strong tendency to attract more electrons than what they would normally have. For example, chlorine has tendency to attract one electron to achieve stability.

Question 4: What are the physical properties of metals?

Answer:

The physical properties of metals are-

  • They are good conductors of heat and electricity and thus they find applications in day to day life like cooking utensils which is made of iron or aluminum as they are good conductors of heat.
  • The capacity of a substance to be drawn into a wire is known as ductility, and it is this property that permits metals to be used as cable wires and for soldering.
  • Malleability is the property of metals that allows them to be beaten into flat sheets. Because of their light weight and strength, aluminium sheets are employed in the manufacture of aircraft. Metals are thus malleable.
  • Metals produces a deep or ringing sound when struck with another hard object. Thus, they are sonorous.
  • Most of the metals are lustrous, i.e. they are shiny but they can also be polished to have a shiny appearance.

Question 5: What are the physical properties of non-metals?

Answer:

The physical properties of non-metals are-

  1. Carbon fibres are used in a range of industries, including sports and music equipment, and is the only non-metals that is ductile.
  2. They are not malleable as they are brittle and break on applying pressure.
  3. They are not lustrous as they do not have any shiny appearance.
  4. Non-metals don’t produce a deep ringing sound when they are hit with another material. Thus, they are not sonorous.
  5. They are also bad conductors of heat and electricity. Notable exception being graphite.



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