Lead is a heavy metal. Like other metals, Pure lead is a conductor of both electricity and heat. However, lead is not as conductive as other metals such as copper, silver, gold, aluminum, etc. Lead has relatively a higher resistivity.
Lead is a post-transition metal. It is very soft and malleable. Lead’s atomic number is 82. As lead has a higher atomic number and it is comparatively heavy, it shows a weaker metallic character. Therefore, it is less conductive of heat and electricity than other metals.
Is Lead Conductive
Lead is a p-block element. It is denoted with the 82Pb symbol. It is a very soft and pliable metal. If you go from left to right of the periodic table, the metallic property of an element decreases. Lead is located on the far right and bottom of the periodic table among the metals. Therefore, lead shows weak metallic properties.
Metals form metallic bonds. In this metallic bond, atoms of the metals are surrounded by a continuously moving sea of electrons. This moving electron sea allows metals to conduct electricity. Though lead is a weak metal, it still has metallic properties. Therefore, pure lead is both a conductor of electricity and heat.
Lead has a higher resistivity than other light metals. The electrical resistivity of lead at 20 °C is 220 nΩ⋅m which is higher than those of other metals (The resistivity of copper, gold, and aluminum are respectively 16.8 nΩ·m, 24.4 nΩ·m, and 26.5 nΩ·m.). Hence, lead is relatively a poor electric conductor.
Lead can also act as a type-I superconductor at temperatures lower than 7.2 K. The thermal conductivity of lead is 35.3 Wm-1⋅K-1 which is pretty much lower than other metals. So, lead is not a good heat conductor as well. It has a low melting and boiling point than other light metals.
Though lead is conductive, lead compounds are not. Metallic oxides are very poor conductors of heat and electricity. Lead reacts readily with the atmosphere’s oxygen to form lead oxides which do not allow electricity and heat to pass through it. This is why lead is not generally used as a conductor.
Is Lead a Good Conductor of Electricity
Lead is a poor conductor of electricity relative to other metals such as copper, gold, etc. It is a heavy, soft, and malleable metal. It has a higher atomic number and mass. As lead has a higher resistivity than other industrial metals, it is considered a poor conductor of electricity.
The atoms of the metal are surrounded by these free electrons known as the ‘Electron Sea’. While connected to the power, the electrons can move freely throughout the structure which makes electric current possible.
Electricity is defined as the flow of electrons. Metals form metallic bonds that Lead is a weak metal. As a metal, lead also forms metallic bonds. But unlike other metals, lead possesses fewer free electrons in its structure. As it lacks free electrons, the resistivity of lead metal is very high compared to other metals. Therefore, lead is a bad conductor of electricity.
There is another reason why lead is considered a bad conductor. When exposed, it reacts with the atmosphere very instantly and forms lead oxides. These oxides do not allow electricity to pass through. Other metals do not form metallic oxides so spontaneously. Hence, lead is not a good conductor of electricity.
What Is the Conductivity of Lead
Lead is both electrically and thermally conductive. However, it has relatively poor conductivity than other metals. According to IACS lead is only 7% as conductive as copper.
At 20 °C temperature and 1 bar pressure, the value of electrical resistivity and thermal conductivity of some common metals are given below.
|Electrical Resistivity (nΩ⋅m)
|Thermal Conductivity (Wm-1⋅K-1)
As you can see, lead has a very high resistivity and low thermal conductivity compared to other metals. Hence, lead is a poor conductor of electricity and heat.
Is lead a Poor Conductor
Yes, lead is a poor conductor of both heat and electricity. Being a heavy and dense metal, lead shows weaker metallic characters. Lead has the highest atomic number (82) of any stable element. In spite of being a metal, lead has a higher resistivity.
The electron configuration of lead is [Xe]4f145d106s26p2. As it is located on the far right and bottom of the periodic table among all metals, it has high ionization energy. Therefore, it requires lots of energy to remove the two 6p electrons from its outer shell which is very unusual. Other metals don’t require this much energy.
Pure lead can conduct little electricity; however, lead oxides do not flow electricity at all. Lead forms oxide compounds instantly if exposed to the atmosphere. Therefore, it is usually considered a bad conductive. But, as it has a low melting point (600.61 K), it is used in soldering along with tin.
|% Conductivity(Relative to Copper)
This table shows that lead is much less conductive compared to other metals. Therefore, lead is a poor conductor.
Is Lead Toxic?
Lead is a highly toxic and poisonous metal. It can cause severe damage to the human body and organs. If swallowed or inhaled, it can even cause death. Lead can cause kidney failure, anemia, miscarriage, etc. Lead is a neurotoxin; it damages nerve tissues. Therefore, the use of lead should be reduced.
Lead is a heavy, malleable, and soft metal. Pure lead is both a conductor of heat and electricity. However, compared to other metals, lead has a high resistivity and low thermal conductivity. Therefore, lead is considered to be a poor conductor.