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Metals and non-metals in the periodic table

Yao, Benzhen, Kuznetsov, Vladimir L., Xiao, Tiancun, Slocombe, Daniel R. ORCID:, Rao, C. N. R., Hensel, Friedrich and Edwards, Peter P. 2020. Metals and non-metals in the periodic table. Philosophical Transactions A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences 378 (2180) , 20200213. 10.1098/rsta.2020.0213

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The demarcation of the chemical elements into metals and non-metals dates back to the dawn of Dmitri Mendeleev's construction of the periodic table; it still represents the cornerstone of our view of modern chemistry. In this contribution, a particular emphasis will be attached to the question ‘Why do the chemical elements of the periodic table exist either as metals or non-metals under ambient conditions?’ This is perhaps most apparent in the p-block of the periodic table where one sees an almost-diagonal line separating metals and non-metals. The first searching, quantum-mechanical considerations of this question were put forward by Hund in 1934. Interestingly, the very first discussion of the problem—in fact, a pre-quantum-mechanical approach—was made earlier, by Goldhammer in 1913 and Herzfeld in 1927. Their simple rationalization, in terms of atomic properties which confer metallic or non-metallic status to elements across the periodic table, leads to what is commonly called the Goldhammer–Herzfeld criterion for metallization. For a variety of undoubtedly complex reasons, the Goldhammer–Herzfeld theory lay dormant for close to half a century. However, since that time the criterion has been repeatedly applied, with great success, to many systems and materials exhibiting non-metal to metal transitions in order to predict, and understand, the precise conditions for metallization. Here, we review the application of Goldhammer–Herzfeld theory to the question of the metallic versus non-metallic status of chemical elements within the periodic system. A link between that theory and the work of Sir Nevill Mott on the metal-non-metal transition is also highlighted. The application of the ‘simple’, but highly effective Goldhammer–Herzfeld and Mott criteria, reveal when a chemical element of the periodic table will behave as a metal, and when it will behave as a non-metal. The success of these different, but converging approaches, lends weight to the idea of a simple, universal criterion for rationalizing the instantly-recognizable structure of the periodic table where …the metals are here, the non-metals are there … The challenge of the metallic and non-metallic states of oxides is also briefly introduced.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Engineering
Publisher: Royal Society, The
ISSN: 1364-503X
Date of Acceptance: 26 June 2020
Last Modified: 07 Nov 2022 11:01

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