Question Video: Comparing the Metallic Character of Some Metals Using Their Valence Electrons Chemistry

Which of the following metals has the strongest metallic bonding? [A] Sodium [B] Lithium [C] Beryllium [D] Magnesium [E] Aluminum


Video Transcript

Which of the following metals has the strongest metallic bonding? (A) Sodium, (B) lithium, (C) beryllium, (D) magnesium, or (E) aluminum.

This question is asking us to find the strongest metallic bond. The strongest bond is the one that has the strongest attractions between the particles. There are two key characteristics that can affect the strength of the attractions from metal to metal. First, the more valence electrons that a metal has, the stronger the bond. The extra electrons will add to the overall attractive forces acting on the positive ions. The other relationship that could come into play is that, in general, more electron shells means a weaker bond, although there are many exceptions to this pattern.

The separation between the nucleus and the valence electrons that the extra electron shells provide weakens the attractive forces between the positively charged and negatively charged particles. However, this second relationship is not as strong as the relationship between valence electrons and bond strength. So, let’s investigate that relationship first by finding the number of valence electrons of each of these metals. How do we find the number of valence electrons? Well, we can take a look at the periodic table.

As members of group one, sodium and lithium have one electron in their outermost electron shell or one valence electron. One column to the right, we find beryllium and magnesium in group two with two valence electrons. Aluminum, the third element in its row in group 13, has three valence electrons. Since it has the most valence electrons, aluminum, choice (E), is the correct answer. In the case of aluminum, each positive ion has more negative electrons around it, leading to more attractions and a stronger bond.

In this problem, we did not end up using the second relationship between the number of electron shells and the bond strength. If there were multiple metals that were tied for the highest number of valence electrons among the choices, we could use this second relationship as a sort of tiebreaker. However, since there are many exceptions to this pattern, it would be useful to confirm any assumptions about bond strength or melting points gleaned from this pattern by looking them up. Of the choices, the metal with the strongest metallic bonding is choice (E) aluminum.

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