Does Brass Conduct Electricity: 11 Important Facts


Brass is an yellowish brown or golden coloured alloy of two metals. Let us discuss whether it conducts electricity.

Brass conducts electricity as this metal alloy has 66% of Copper(Cu) present in it. Copper is considered as a good conductor metal of electricity due to its capacity to donate electrons and large value of electrical conductivity (59.6 x 10⁶ Siemens/meter),the prime factor of conduction of electricity.

Mobile electrons exist in brass due to the presence of two metals of copper and zinc in it. The mobility of these electrons is the reason why brass passes electricity.

Is brass an insulator or a conductor?

Insulators are just opposite in properties to the conductors. Let us focus on brass regarding this.

Brass is a conductor of both electricity and heat but it can not act as an insulator. The reason is the mobility of delocalized electrons takes place at room temperature within brass depicting it as a conductor. Insulator carries strongly bounded immobile electrons only.

Besides that brass is a combination of two metals: copper and zinc that have higher values of electrical conductivity than insulators that have very low electrical conductivities.

How does brass conduct electricity?

Let us focus on the process of conduction of electricity through brass.

Brass conducts electricity. The mobility of delocalized electrons from one atom to another atom just like other metals makes brass capable of conducting electricity. Flow of electrons carries electric current in brass.

Why does brass conduct electricity?

Being an alloy of Cu and Zn,brass passes on electric current. Let us focus on the reason behind it.

Brass conducts electricity. The reason is being an alloy of two metals that are Cu and Zn,it gains the property of movement of mobile electrons in it by nature and this mobility or movement of free electrons from one atom to another generates electricity.

This mobility of electrons is restricted to some extent by the presence of Zinc,a less conducting metal which in turn resists brass to be a good conductor.

What is the electric conductivity of brass?

Electric conductivity of a material is basically its capacity to carry electric current. Let us know about the electrical conductivity of brass.

The electrical conductivity of brass is 15.9 x 10⁶ Siemens per meter. Due to the fact that brass is an alloy that contains 34% of zinc and the value of electrical conductivity of zinc is lower i.e, 16.6 x 10⁶ Siemens per meter,the value of electrical conductivity of brass is also lower.

Besides this reason zinc reduces the mobility of free electrons within brass which in turn decreases the value of electrical conductivity of brass.

Is brass a good conductor of electricity?

As brass is an alloy of two metals,naturally it is a conductor. Let us have a look whether it is a good conductor or not.

Brass is not a good conductor of electricity as it contains 34% of Zn which is less conducting and tries to reduce its electrical conductivity. Contradictorily, 66% of Cu present in it makes brass conduct electricity as electrical conductivity of Cu is higher than that of Zn.

does brass conduct electricity
Brass from wikipedia

The electrical conductivity of copper is ~58.7 x 10⁶ Siemens/m and that of zinc is ~16.6 x 10⁶ Siemens/m.

Why is brass a poor electrical conductor than copper?

Electrical conductivity depicts the quality of conductor. Let us compare brass and copper in terms of electrical conductors.

Brass is a poor electrical conductor than copper. The reason is that brass is an alloy of copper and zinc and zinc being a less conducting metal than copper tries to reduce the electrical conductivity of brass.

Other than this the electrical conductivity of copper is 58.7 x 10⁶ Siemens/m which is higher than brass. This makes brass a poor conductor.

Structure and bonding of brass

Brass is possessed of a crystalline structure accompanied by metallic bonding. Let us discuss the types of structure and bonding that it has.

The structure of brass is crystallised in nature. The specific crystal structure that is possessed by brass is Face Centred Cubic(FCC) structure and the type of bonding that it possesses is metallic bonding.

Face centred cubic structure from wikipedia

Being similar to FCC brass crystals have one atom situated at every corner of its cubic structure and one atom at the centre. As it is an alloy of Cu and Zn,its bonding is metallic bonding.

Properties of brass

Brass does have some properties that make it a favourable choice for conducting electricity. Let us discuss its properties.

  • Density of brass is 8.73 gm/cm³
  • The boiling point of brass is about 1100℃
  • The melting point of brass is 927 ℃- 930℃
  • Electrical conductivity of brass is 15.9 x 10⁶ siemens per meter
  • Thermal conductivity of brass is 146.87 W/m.K
  • Electrical resistivity of brass is about 0.6 – 0.9 x 10⁻⁷ Ωm at 20℃
  • It is highly malleable in nature
  • Less friction is used to be exhibited by brass
  • Due to its acoustic properties it is usable in musical instruments
  • It does not possess ferromagnetic property
  • It can resist corrosion from affecting any material

Uses of brass as conductor

Other than its acoustic uses, it has some other uses as conductor. Let us have a look at these uses.

  • Brass can be used to make wires as it possesses both electricity conduction property as well as corrosion resistant property.
  • Presence of zinc gives brass a robust structure. Due to its hardness it is more durable and this is the reason why it can make wires used in electrical connectors.
  • Electric plugs and sockets also use brass.

Is brass a good conductor of heat and why?

Good conductors of heat have the capacity to transfer heat swiftly. Let us focus on brass regarding this.

Brass is a good conductor of heat due to its high thermal conductivity of 146.87 W/m.K and thermal conductivity is the key factor to decide whether a material can conduct electricity or not. Besides being a mixture of Cu and Zn it passes heat easily.

Thermal conductivity of brass does not show a definite change with change in temperature. Sometimes it increases with the increase in temperature and sometimes it decreases with it.

Conclusion

The matter whether brass can conduct electricity or not has been discussed in this article. Other than this a few more questions like is it a conductor or not,does it conduct heat or not,how and why it conducts electricity also been discussed here. Its structure,type of bonding,properties and uses are also covered.

Ankita Biswas

I am Ankita. I have done my B.Sc in physics honours and my M.Sc in Electronics. Currently I am working as physics teacher in a Higher Secondary School. I am very enthusiastic about high energy physics field. I love to write complicated physics concepts in understandable and simple words.

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