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 Thermal Conductivity and Specific Heat
Name: Marc
Status: Educator
Grade: 9-12
Location: IL
Country: USA
Date: June 2006


Question:
Is there a relation between thermal conductivity and specific heat (heat capacity)? You may except metal solids.



Replies:
Marc,

The short answer is "No". There is no relationship at all between thermal conductivity and specific heat. This is not only true among different elements, alloys, compounds, etc, where many examples can be shown of substances that have high thermal conductivities and low specific heat, yet other examples can easily be called to mind that are the exact opposite. This can also easily be demonstrated with allotropes of many common elements. For example, compare graphite and diamond. Both are pure carbon; chemically identical. The only difference is crystal structure. Graphite has a specific heat that is about 50% higher than diamond. But diamond has a thermal conductivity that is more than 800 times better than graphite. Thermal conductivity and specific heat are quite clearly unrelated.

Regards,
Bob Wilson



Click here to return to the Material Science 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 (help@newton.dep.anl.gov), or at Argonne's Educational Programs

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

Argonne National Laboratory