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 Electrical Conductive Elements
Name: Larry
Status: educator
Age: 40s
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: 2000-2001

What is the listing of electrical conductive elements with the best conductor listed first?

I am currently in a program and there is no discussion of platinum or gold as conductors and what their ranking would be.

You can look up electrical (and thermal) conductivity data in handbooks on material properties at your reference library. Introductory books on electrical engineering also carry this information but perhaps not as extensively as a handbook. Silver, gold, and platinum are highly conductive but expensive, that is why copper is often used. Also note that electrical conductivity is temperature dependent; this dependency is responsible for certain materials exhibiting superconductivity (extremely high conductivity) at low temperatures.

Ali Khounsary, Ph.D.
Advanced Photon Source
Argonne National Laboratory

The Handbook of Chemistry and Physics, published by the Chemical Rubber Company, which can be found on the reference shelf of most libraries, give a list of resistivities of the elements. Copper, silver and gold have the lowest resistively, but remember that purity as well as crystal defects from how the metal was worked mechanically and annealed thermally can change the resistively greatly.

Vince Calder

Click here to return to the Physics 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