The best thermal conductors are generally metals and take the shape of pans, appliances, pipes and other commercial and residential fixtures. Thermal conductors are essentially items that transport heat from one place to another. Heat is a type of thermal energy, which is transferred through several methods, including convection, radiation and conduction.
While conduction and convection involve the movement or particles, radiation takes place through the transfer of electromagnetic waves. Different thermal conductors are used depending on the type of energy transmitted. Most thermal conductors take the form of metals, but there is a wide variation in the types of metals used for different purposes. Metals vary in their ability to retain heat; the electrons in different metals leave their atoms then move through metals as free-floating electrons. The parts and components of metal atoms left are then charged as metal ions and congregate to create closely packed groups. When bonded, these ions vibrate; the hotter metals are, the more they vibrate. The vibration process generates kinetic energy, which transfers energy from active, or hot, portions of metals to cooler parts via free electrons, which them move through metals and collide with ions as they progress. Pots and pans, when heated on stoves, are prime examples of conductivity.