Are metals made from molecules?
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In the traditional view, covalently bound materials differ in a fundamental way from metallic substances. Though both are built from more basic units that are, in turn, constructed from a small number of atoms, for these two materials classes the nature of these units is thought to be quite different. For covalent solids and liquids, these units are considered to be molecular, meaning that they possess properties and bonding that are retained in the condensed phase and thus they continue to be identifiable within the larger system. For metallic materials, these basic units are considered to be mere constructs that are not observable against the delocalized bonding of metals or alloys. The perceived dissimilarity of metallic and covalently bound materials has fostered distinctly different approaches to their design and improvement. Here, the delocalized view of metallic bonding is examined. This examination suggests that much of the rationale used in the design of molecular materials my be applied to metals and alloys as well.
KeywordsMetallic bond Near sightedness of electronic matter Charge density Quantum theory of atoms in molecules
Support of this work under ONR Grant Nos. N00014-10-1-0838 and N00014-16-1-2581 is gratefully acknowledged.
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