The energy required to remove an electron from the surface of a metal is less than that required to remove an electron from a free atom. Why?The electron is bound to the nucleus in an atom by electrostatic forces. How is an electron 'free' on a metal surface?

  • $\begingroup$ Please read the full body of the question.. $\endgroup$ Aug 9, 2016 at 17:19
  • $\begingroup$ Why does metal conduct electricity better than most other materials? In metals there are many energy levels near the Fermi level, meaning that there are many electrons available to move. This is what causes the high electronic conductivity in metals. en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electrical_resistivity_and_conductivity $\endgroup$
    – user108787
    Aug 9, 2016 at 18:01
  • $\begingroup$ @count_to_10 The electrons emitted out are photo electrons and how are they different from an electron that comes out of a free atom? I do not see the relation between conductivity of metals and this question.. $\endgroup$ Aug 10, 2016 at 1:24
  • $\begingroup$ Does this answer your question? If not, explain it, why. $\endgroup$
    – peterh
    Aug 10, 2016 at 17:31
  • $\begingroup$ In this answer what is considered ?, the orbitals that overlap that become overlapped bands in metals ,or electrons simply as in their particle 'character'.. $\endgroup$ Aug 12, 2016 at 18:25

1 Answer 1


Work function measures how much energy is required to remove a conduction electron from a metal lattice. Ionization enthalpy measures how much energy is required to remove an electron from an atom.

Conduction electrons have already partly escaped from the influence of one single atom, and are now more weakly bound to a whole crystal of atoms.

Conduction electrons are 'free' in the sense that they are not bound to one particular atom. They can move around freely within the crystal of metal ions.


Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.