What metals are generally used in electrical wires/cables?

In one of our previous articles, we defined cables as the medium used to carry data from a single network device to another. A transmission medium is required to make it possible to transfer data from an origin to a destination. The information is normally a signal that has to travel a prolonged distance. That is the reason why the transmission media can be either wired or wireless. In the first scenario, the transmission travels along the wire from one device to another. But in wireless transmission, the electromagnetic waves are carried without the need for a physical conductor.

There are various types of wires which are normally utilized with Local Area Networks. In certain situations, a network will use just one type of cable, but some networks will employ a variety of wire types.  The variety of cable chosen for a network is directly associated with the network’s protocol and its size. Understanding the properties of different sorts of cables and how they associate with other aspects of a network is essential for the development of an effective network. The type of cable used in any network infrastructure is one of the most crucial aspects of networking in several industries.

Generally, wiring in your in devices or properties is made of 100% pure (or at least 99% pure, because of problems of purification) copper. So, whether it’s a laptop charger or Ipad charger, it’s all still copper.  But, you can still notice a difference in the physical characteristics of the wires due to the variety of insulation, and how stranded the copper is.

What metals are generally used in electrical wires/cables?

What and when are other metals used in conducting electricity?


Gold is not a conductor compared to copper and silver (and it is also more expensive), but it has an advantage, it resists oxidation much better than the other two conductors mentioned. As a result, gold is applied to plate connectors, whose connection may degrade if the surface is oxidized. 

Gold wire is also applied in chips to link the interconnects between the chip package and the silicon. Gold is employed as it resists oxidation when bonding. Copper can be used as well but would need to be done in an inert atmosphere like nitrogen.


Silver has a higher conductivity compared to copper but isn’t utilized extensively because of its cost. But it does have some niche uses where extremely low resistance is wanted, some of them are; sensitive scientific instruments; cryogenics (where it’s desired to have minimal heat produced in wires); and also in electrical contacts in switches, where the softness of silver and relatively good-conducting silver-oxide makes it a good choice for metal-to-metal connections.


Aluminum does not conduct well compared with copper – for a given size of cable copper will conduct better; but because aluminum has a better weight-to-conductivity ratio, aluminum cable with the same conductivity as the copper wire would be physically thicker, but would still work out to be lighter, and probably cheaper too.


Tungsten is utilized when you need the wire to have resistance, and also have it not melt even when white-hot, as is the case in incandescent lamps.

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Jessica Cardona