MINERAL PROPERTIES: ELECTRICAL PROPERTIES


Three electrical properties are applicable to minerals: Conduction, Pyroelectricity, and Piezoelectricity.


Conduction
Conduction in mineral terms is defined as the ability of a mineral to conduct electricity. Only a very small number of minerals are good conductors; they are the metallic elements and the mineral Graphite. These conductors can be placed between a wire carrying electricity, and the electricity will pass through. Conduction is an important property that can distinguish true metals from metallic looking sulfides and oxides.

Pyroelectricity
Pyroelectricity describes the ability of a mineral to develop electrical charges when exposed to temperature changes. Some minerals develop an electrical charge when heated, others when cooled.

Piezoelectricity
Piezoelectricity describes the ability of a mineral to develop electrical charges when put under stress. Piezoelectric minerals will develop charges when rubbed or struck repeatedly.

Conduction is very useful in distinguishing true metals, but pyroelectricity and piezoelectricity are not practical testing methods for normal mineral collectors.


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