Minerals and Energy Resources

What is an Alloy? – Definition and Examples


What is an Alloy?

We see metal in our daily lives in different forms. In fact, you have at least one metal object somewhere near you right now. It is that common nowadays. However, you may not be aware of the fact that 90% of the metal which we come in contact with daily is alloy. Now, you may wonder what is an alloy? It is also a type of metal widely used in various industries and more. To answer the question of what is an alloy better we will provide you with a definition and examples for the same purposes.

Properties of Alloy

An alloy is a substance that is basically a mixture of either metal with other kinds of metals or non-metallic substances.

This procedure helps in enabling the substance to acquire more required properties like enhanced stiffness or lower melting points. It is made when two elements melt and mix together, one of which has to be metal.

what is an alloy

Now that the question of what is an alloy is answered, we will learn furthermore about it. What’s more is that, when it cools down, it crystallizes and turns into a solid solution or an intermetallic compound.

One can separate the components of an alloy through physical means. An alloy is homogenous in nature and can retain the features of metal even if it contains metalloids or non-metals.

Examples of Alloy

The various examples will help students in understanding better what is an alloy. The most common one is steel. It is basically iron mixed with carbon and other elements like nickel and cobalt.

The other elements which we add to the alloy allow it to give it a better quality like the stiffness and tensile strength.

Furthermore, we have stainless steel which is a form of iron alloy. It usually comprises chromium, nickel, and other materials.

This is done in order to prevent it from getting rusted or corroded.  Next up, we have 18k gold. It is only 75% gold. The other 25% consists of elements like copper, nickel or even zinc.

This type of alloy helps in retaining the colour and lustre of pure gold. However, it is harder and strong which makes it suitable for jewellery.

Moreover, there is a pewter. This is an alloy of tin which consists of other materials like copper, lead and more. It is a malleable form of alloy which is even stronger than pure tin. In addition, it can resist the phase change of tin which may crush it at low temperatures.

Uses of Alloy

We also have brass which is a mixture of copper that mixes with zinc and other elements too. Brass is quite hard and durable which comes in use for plumbing gears and machined parts.

Other than that, sterling silver is an example of alloy which consists of 92.5% silver along with copper and other metals. When we alloy silver, it becomes durable and harder.

Further, there is electrum, which is a naturally occurring alloy. It was quite a prized possession in the ancient days.

Another example is meteoritic iron which consists of quite a number of elements including iron and nickel. They were of great use for making weapons and tools in ancient times.

Finally, there are mercury alloys which refer to as amalgams. It makes it more like a paste that comes in great use as dental fillings.

Solved Question for You

Question– Which of the following is not an alloy?

  1. 18k gold
  2. Stainless steel
  3. Copper
  4. Sterling Silver

Answer– The correct answer is option C.

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