Which element has the greatest electrical conductivity?
(A) $\ce{As}$ (B) $\ce{Ge}$ (C) $\ce{P}$ (D) $\ce{Sn}$

I am unsure of how to approach this problem. Is there some sort of trend for electrical conductivity or some other method to determine which of these answers the question?

I am pretty sure it is not $\ce{Ge}$ as that is used for semi-conductors, and am pretty sure it is not $\ce{P}$ because that is a non-metal but I don't know how to narrow down between the others.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Phosphorus allotropes are white, red, and black. Arsenic allotropes are gray, yellow, and black. Germanium allotropes are alpha- and beta-. Tin allotropes are white and gray (Napoleon learned about that outside Moscow). Have some fun with the question, doi:10.1063/1.1729699 $\endgroup$
    – Uncle Al
    Commented Mar 19, 2014 at 14:21

1 Answer 1


I am unsure of how to approach this problem.

No, you are not! You have already reduced the number of candidates by good reasoning!

At this point, one

  • could have a look at conductivity tables or remember in which period the metal blocks start for every main group or
  • remember typical electricity-related uses of $\ce{As}$ and $\ce{Sn}$

Did you ever form a conducting connection between electronic components (or just some wires) by soldering? $\Leftarrow$

(Do you recall that $\ce{GaAs}$ is used as a semiconductor material in thin film solar cells?)


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