Transition Metals

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Periodic table showing the transition metals, including manganese (Mn), iron (Fe), nickel (Ni), copper (Cu) zinc (Zn), silver (Ag), platinum (Pt), gold (Au) and mercury (Hg)" title="image: periodic table showing the transition metals, including manganese (Mn), iron (Fe), nickel (Ni), copper (Cu) zinc (Zn), silver (Ag), platinum (Pt), gold (Au) and mercury (Hg)

The transition metals (in blue).
   

The transition metals are found in the large block between Groups 2 and 3 in the periodic table.

Most of the commonly used metals are placed here, including iron, copper, silver, gold, titanium, nickel, zinc, platinum and mercury.

[ Note however: aluminium, lead and tin, amongst others, are not transition metals. ]

The transition metals have the following properties in common. They:

  • are metals
  • form coloured compounds
  • are good conductors of heat and electricity
  • can be hammered or bent into shape easily
  • are less reactive than alkali metals such as sodium
  • have high melting points (except for mercury, which is a liquid at room temperature)
  • are usually hard and tough
  • have high densities.

Some uses of a few transition metals

iron Iron is usually made into steel, which is stronger and more easily shaped than iron. Steel is widely used as a structural material, for example to make bridges, buildings, ships and cars.
titanium Fighter aircraft, artificial hip joints, pipes in nuclear power stations.
copper Copper is a very good conductor of electricity, so it is used for electricity cables. It is easily bent into shape and it does not react with water, so it is used for water pipes.
nickel Used in alloys for coins, armour plating, batteries
Silver Silver does not corrode in air or water, and it is a very good conductor of electricity. It is used for jewellery, printed circuit boards and electrical contacts.
Gold Gold does not corrode in air or water, and it is a good conductor of electricity. It is used for jewellery, connecting wires for computer chips and electrical contacts.

[ This page has been adapted from www.bbc.co.uk/schools/gcsebitesize/science ]