Figure 1. Common metals, such as copper, display both thermal and electrical conductivity [1]

Conduction can refer to either:

The word conductor usually means a material with high electrical conductivity (low resistivity). However, most electric conductors (usually metals), are good thermal conductors as well.[4] For example, copper is both an excellent thermal conductor and electrical conductor.

The reverse is usually but not always true;[4] for example, diamonds are excellent thermal conductors (even better than copper) but usually electrical insulators. Although at very low temperatures a research group found [5] showing that diamonds can become superconductors below 4 K (superconductivity is specifically a description of electrical conduction, not thermal conduction).

For Further Reading


  1. Pixabay. (2013). Copper-wire [Online]. Available:
  2. Boston University. (1998). Heat Transfer, and The First Law of Thermodynamic [Online]. Available:
  3. Virginia Universiy. Electrical Conduction [Online]. Available:
  4. 4.0 4.1 Electronics Cooling. (2000). How Thermal Conductivity Relates to Electrical Conductivity [Online]. Available:
  5. Ekimov et al., "Superconductivity in diamond" in Nature, Vol. 428, New York: MacMillan, 2004, pp. 542-5. Available:

Authors and Editors

Bethel Afework, Allison Campbell, Jordan Hanania, James Jenden, Richard Logan, Jason Donev
Last updated: September 3, 2018
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