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Why is copper the best heat conductor?

Updated: 8/10/2023
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6y ago

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At the simplest level, heat conductivity in metals is governed by two processes - the lattice vibrations and the transport of the free electrons. What makes a metal to be good heat conductors in general is predominantly due to these free electrons. So the rate of thermal conductivity depends on how easily they can move and "carry" the heat from one location to another (since the electron gas has very low specific heat, they absorb heat very easily and also gives off heat very easily).

At "high" temperatures (i.e. room temperature and above), the mechanism that dominates the electron transport in metals is the electron-phonon interaction. Phonons are lattice vibrations. The coupling between electrons and phonons in a solid is very complicated and depends on, for example, the phonon spectrum. Thus, this can vary from one material to another, and even in a material, can very in one direction versus another.

For copper, it has a relatively weaker electron-phonon coupling than, let's say, Pb and Al. So at a given temperature, the conduction electrons do not get "interfered" with the phonons as strongly as Pb and Al (or even Fe). So it can move more efficiently.

This is also the reason why Cu is also a better electrical conductor than most other metals at room temperature. Ironically, because of its weak coupling with the phonons, it doesn't have enough "glue" to form the necessary Cooper Pairs at very low temperatures and thus, it does not become a superconductor, whereas poorer conductors like Pb and Nb can, due to the stronger electron-phonon coupling strength.

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8y ago
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10y ago

Copper has more electrons on its outer orbital than aluminum or brass. This way the electrons, which carry the heat, are more free to move around and spread heat. So if a substance has more electrons on its outer orbital then is can conduct heat faster.

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14y ago

Most copper alloys conduct heat better than most aluminum alloys do. That said, you can probably find exceptions: aluminum alloys that conduct heat better than copper alloys.

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11y ago

Yes. Copper is a better conductor than aluminum.

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6y ago

Copper is NOT the best heat conductor, you are misinformed. Silver is a better conductor than copper and diamond is better still, it is 5 times better than copper.

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11y ago

because i like birthday cakes

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14y ago

because cookies r rectangular

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12y ago

Because it does

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12y ago

yes

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Q: Why is copper the best heat conductor?
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