Is a good electric conductor a good thermal conductor?

Discussion in 'Physics' started by impaJah, Sep 29, 2012.

  1. impaJah

    Thread Starter New Member

    Aug 2, 2012
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    My instincts tell me these two are related. I know that what determines a good electrical conductor is the number of valence electrons its atoms have. The atomic structures that make for good thermal conductors... I'm not sure. Is it the same?

    Metals heat up quick and retain their heat... glass and plastic, not as much. So is there a relation between these two or is it just a rule of thumb?

    Thanks
     
  2. WBahn

    Moderator

    Mar 31, 2012
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    My understanding is that, yes, in general, good electrical conductors are good thermal conductors while good electrical insulators are good thermal insulators. But there are definitely exceptions. For instance, diamond is a very good electrical insulator but an excellent thermal conductor.
     
  3. Wendy

    Moderator

    Mar 24, 2008
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    Larry Niven once wrote a story where where a room temperature superconductor was also a thermal superconductor. I don't know if this will ever come to pass, but it is possible.

    Recently there has been as yet unconfirmed evidence that a room temperature superconductor may have been discovered. If this is true it is big. Very big.

    http://forum.allaboutcircuits.com/showthread.php?p=526825#post526825
     
  4. impaJah

    Thread Starter New Member

    Aug 2, 2012
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    Great info guys, and very interesting!

    Are there any forum members out there who know how the atomic structure of different materials might wrap all these observations together?
     
  5. KJ6EAD

    Senior Member

    Apr 30, 2011
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