Department of Energy Argonne National Laboratory Office of Science NEWTON's Homepage NEWTON's Homepage
NEWTON, Ask A Scientist!
NEWTON Home Page NEWTON Teachers Visit Our Archives Ask A Question How To Ask A Question Question of the Week Our Expert Scientists Volunteer at NEWTON! Frequently Asked Questions Referencing NEWTON About NEWTON About Ask A Scientist Education At Argonne Is hydrogen a metallic element?
Name: laurens
Status: N/A
Age: N/A
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: Before 1993

Is hydrogen a metallic element? If not, why is it on the left side of the periodic table?

Hydrogen is not a metallic element despite the placement on the left side of the periodic chart. I think that most modern periodic tables place it both on the upper left (its periodic position) and on the upper right next to Helium (its position as a gas). The reason that it was put on the upper left of the table originally is because the column IA is home to all elements with 1 electron in the outermost s-orbital. Hydrogen certainly meets this criteria, however it is physical properties are more consistent with the gases grouped at the upper right.


Just to expand on Mike's answer a little. The most common phase of hydrogen (that is, pure hydrogen) is hydrogen gas. Two hydrogens form a chemical bond to form H2. H2 does have a lot of physical properties which are similar to the upper-right gases. However, solid hydrogen can be formed at cryogenic temperatures (REAL cold) and there is some limited evidence that it may be metallic (i.e. conduct electrons like a metal does). There are some decent theoretical reasons for this to happen too...but it is still an issue of some dispute if I recall.

Robert Topper

Click here to return to the Chemistry Archives

NEWTON is an electronic community for Science, Math, and Computer Science K-12 Educators, sponsored and operated by Argonne National Laboratory's Educational Programs, Andrew Skipor, Ph.D., Head of Educational Programs.

For assistance with NEWTON contact a System Operator (, or at Argonne's Educational Programs

Educational Programs
Building 360
9700 S. Cass Ave.
Argonne, Illinois
60439-4845, USA
Update: June 2012
Weclome To Newton

Argonne National Laboratory