Are metals monoatomic or polyatomic in nature? For in crystalline form they also form molecular orbitals.

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    $\begingroup$ Why do we say that, really? We don't. It makes no sense. It is not even wrong. $\endgroup$ Dec 6, 2015 at 10:04
  • $\begingroup$ @Ivan Neretin Can we say it polyatomic.I asked this question because my book says that all group 15 elements are polyatomic and also found bismuth to be in crystal form.Now I don't know what to say about it.Though the reason I gave above should indicate it to be polyatomic. $\endgroup$
    – Sikander
    Dec 6, 2015 at 11:04
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    $\begingroup$ @IvanNeretin Agree. Using the reference of monoatomic/polyatomic frame in the given situation is more confusing and meaningless then helpful. $\endgroup$
    – Greg
    Dec 7, 2015 at 0:42
  • $\begingroup$ What this question is really getting at in terms of materials science is why some metals (particularly the precious metals) appear to reveal quite distinct properties akin to different allotropes i.e. the famous "white powder of gold" when processed under extreme heat and/or pressure (as if extreme "annealing" of certain metals converts them into a semi- or nonmetallic ceramic like substance...it's monoatomic or diatomic form?) $\endgroup$
    – Lukester
    Dec 27, 2016 at 22:47

1 Answer 1


True metals are held together by the metallic bond. Unlike ionic or covalent bonds, there is no definite ratio of ingredients: for example, electrons are shared throughout an alloy of gold and silver in any proportion.

So, one could consider any intact piece of metal a giant molecule, because electrons are shared throughout, or one could consider it monatomic, because there is no definitive chemical bond amongst the atoms. It all depends on your definition, much like the multiple Lewis, Brønsted - Lowry etc. definitions of "Acid" or "Base".

  • $\begingroup$ "electrons are shared throughout an alloy of gold and silver in any proportion." That is not a property of the elemental form, itself. Also, polymers (built up of covalent units) can do the same trick, so it is not truly unique for metals. $\endgroup$
    – Greg
    Dec 7, 2015 at 0:38
  • $\begingroup$ True... I should have stated it more clearly: 1. Electrons are shared throughout a metal. 2. They are shared by all elements of a pure metal or even an alloy in a "sea" of electrons. As for conductive polymers, I'm not sure that all atoms participate in the conduction band, unlike a metal. $\endgroup$ Dec 7, 2015 at 1:07
  • $\begingroup$ I am not talking about conducting polymers: co-polymers do the same trick without any extended localization. What you say is neither exclusive nor relevant property of metals. $\endgroup$
    – Greg
    Dec 7, 2015 at 1:37
  • $\begingroup$ In a non-conductive polymer, electrons are not shared in a common sea, free to move amongst atoms. $\endgroup$ Dec 7, 2015 at 1:46
  • $\begingroup$ I might haven't been clear: the issue of forming compounds in a fix stoichiometry or able to do it in any proportion is not much to do with metallic properties. Therefore these are rather unrelated. And yes, e.g graphene shares all the electrons, yet carbon is not a metal, neither mono-atomic.. $\endgroup$
    – Greg
    Dec 7, 2015 at 2:01

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