Does Mercury Conduct Electricity: 11 Important Facts

Mercury is found in its liquid phase at room temperature; let us see whether mercury can conduct electricity or not ahead in this article.

Mercury does conduct electricity because it has a metallic property and excellent volume expansion properties with the rise in temperature. The electrons of mercury are free to move to conduct the flow of electric flux on the surface of the matter.

Mercury has two valence electrons that can be easily dissociated from this metal to produce electricity. A sufficient amount of electric flux penetrates through the mercury per unit cross-section area. Let us discuss further in this article how these free electrons help in conducting electricity.

Is mercury an insulator or a conductor?

All metals are conductors and not insulators. Let’s justify whether mercury is an insulator or a conductor.

Mercury a metal is a conductor, as it allows the flow of electricity and heat through it. Mercury is found in its liquid state at room temperature, also quickly responds to a high temperature, and so it is used in instruments like thermometers and thermostats.

Mercury is neither a bad conductor of heat nor electricity. Hence it cannot be classified as an insulator. In its liquid state, it is a poor conductor of heat compared to its solid state.

How does mercury conduct electricity?

The matter conducts electricity when free electrons show the transition from one energy level to another. Let us see how mercury conducts electricity.

The mercury gives away its one or two valence electrons forming electro-positive ions, and thus it can conduct electricity. The valence electron grasps the chemical/electrical energy, gets excited at the higher energy level, and starts conducting.

Why does mercury conduct electricity?

Conduction of electricity is possible due to the density of the electric flux penetrating through the meterial. Let us discuss why mercury is able to conduct electricity.

Mercury has two free electrons in the outmost shell present in its 6th shell, with a large distance between the nucleus and these electrons. Due to these electrons which easily dissociate from the atom, Mercury conducts electricity.

The hindrances among the valence electrons and nucleus increase due to the presence of electrons in the five orbits between them. Thus decreasing the electrostatic force between them, these electrons dissociate easily from the outer orbit when supplied with external energy.

What is the electrical conductivity of mercury?

The material is said to be electrically conductive if electric flux penetrates through its cross-sectional area. Let us discuss the electrical conductivity of mercury.

The electrical conductivity of the Hg says about its conducting property and the total electric flux it allows through it. The electrical conductivity of Hg is 10.4×10^3/cm ohm. The resistance of Hg will combat the flow rate of flux through it, thus reducing the total conductivity of the substance.

The variation in the electric flux results in the induced magnetic field. The magnetic fluxes are also responsible for decreasing the conductivity of mercury.

Is mercury a good conductor for electricity?

The charge density and the metal’s electric field should be zero, in order to be a good conductor of electricity. Lets us elaborate on whether Hg is a good conductor of electricity or not.

Mercury has free electrons that absorb and transmit energy that helps them conduct electricity despite being liquid at normal temperatures. The conductivity of mercury is even better in metallic form as there is no impede in the flow rate of charge due to its viscosity.

Structure and Bonding of Mercury

The atomic structure and bonding of mercury depend upon its number of valence electrons and its degree of ionization. Let us discuss on structure and bonding of Hg further.

  • Mercury is rhombohedral in a solid state with a simple trigonal structure and is not crystalline at room temperature.
  • Mercury is used for smelting Al ores and reacts with a few acids to give chlorides, sulfates, and nitrates, forming a covalent radius of 132 pm, and is used for smelting Al ores.
Structure of Mercury; Image Credit: File:Rhombohedral.png – Wikimedia Commons

Properties of Mercury

Several properties of mercury make it unique from all the other metals. Lets us discuss some of the physical and chemical properties of Hg below.

  • Mercury is a silvery-white dense transition metal with a fully-filled d-shell found in a liquid state at room temperature.
  • Mercury has high viscosity with a melting point of 234.32 K and a boiling point of 629.88 K.
  • Mercury can dissolve any metals like gold and silver and does not dissolve iron.

Is mercury a good conductor of heat and why?

All metals are generally good conductors of heat. We shall explicate whether mercury is a good conductor of heat or not.

Mercury can transfer the heat energy from one substance to another and has the highest value of the coefficient of thermal expansion; hence it is a good conductor of heat. That is, the volume of the mercury rises on acquiring a small amount of heat.

Does liquid mercury conduct electricity and why?

Many metals in the liquid state have good conducting properties based on their resistivity. Let us talk about the conduction of electricity by liquid mercury.

Liquid mercury conducts electricity as the transition of electrons can also occur in the liquid state or molten state of the mercury.

For conduction to occur, there must be the flow of electrons that is achieved by the liquid mercury. But, since the atoms are loosely packed, the mobility of atoms may resist the flow of charges, and thus conductivity is slightly low compared to the solid state of mercury.

Does solid mercury conduct electricity and why?

The solid mercury is malleable and ductile with zero electric fields through it. Let us see the conduction of electricity in a solid state of mercury.

Mercury conducts electricity in its solid phase due to the transition of electrons. As there is a flow of electrons in a solid state and the motion of atoms terminates no flux, the conductivity is steady.


Let us conclude with this article saying that mercury is a good conductor of heat and electricity. It is a transition metal with two electrons in its valence shell, making it conductive.


Hi, I’m Akshita Mapari. I have done M.Sc. in Physics. I have worked on projects like Numerical modeling of winds and waves during cyclone, Physics of toys and mechanized thrill machines in amusement park based on Classical Mechanics. I have pursued a course on Arduino and have accomplished some mini projects on Arduino UNO. I always like to explore new zones in the field of science. I personally believe that learning is more enthusiastic when learnt with creativity. Apart from this, I like to read, travel, strumming on guitar, identifying rocks and strata, photography and playing chess. Connect me on LinkedIn -

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