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: .. The Atom

  1. #1

    Jul 2011

    .. The Atom

    Structure of the Atom

    A very basic unit of matter is the atom. Although originally thought of as the smallest form of matter, atoms are really made up of even smaller particlesa nucleus consisting of protons and neutrons and electrons in shells around the nucleus. The most common way to picture an
    Atom is the solar system model. The number of protons in the nucleus determines the element's atomic number. The number of electrons typically equals the number of protons.
    Questions you may have include:

    • What is the solar system model of the atom?
    • How is the nucleus put together?
    • What are the electron shells?

    Solar system model

    The solar system model of the
    Atom is that the Atom is like a tiny solar system, with the nucleus in the center and electrons rotating around the nucleus in orbits, similar to how the planets rotate around the Sun. It is also called the Bohr model, after Neils Bohr, who discovered electron shells in 1913.

    Electrons rotating around the Lithium nucleus It is not certain whether the electrons actually rotate around the nucleus or if they stay in place, but it is more likely that they are in motion.
    Newer models

    There are some newer models of how the electrons appear in the atom.
    Electron cloud model

    One model of the
    Atom states that instead of electrons being tiny particles in orbits, they are in the form of an electron cloud in shells around the nucleus. This model is due to the Uncertainty Principle and is useful in Quantum Mechanics.
    String theory

    The latest theory says that the electrons are neither particles or clouds. Instead, they say they are shaped like pieces of string. String Theory has just been stated in the past few years.
    Will stick with old

    Neither theory is easy to visualize, so for the most part we will stick with the older, solar system model. It answers most questions about the atom.

    The nucleus consists of a number of positively charged protons and uncharged neutrons. They are approximately the same size and weight.
    Since like charges repel, there is some sort of "nuclear glue" that holds the nucleus together. There must usually be more neutrons than protons for a nucleus to be stable, so it has been thought that neutrons had something to do with this nuclear glue. Present theories state that there is a sub-nuclear particle called a gluon that holds the nucleus together.

    Possible nucleus configuration (protons are red with + in picture)

  2. #2

    Jul 2011

    : .. The Atom


    To keep an atom electrically stable, it has the same number of negatively charged electrons in orbit around the nucleus as there are positively charged protons in the nucleus. In situations where there are either more or less electrons in orbit than there are protons in the nucleus, the atom is called an ion. This happens in static electricity and in some chemical solutions.
    Electron shells

    Electrons are arranged in shells or orbits around the nucleus.
    Maximum number

    There is a definite arrangement of the electrons in these shells and a maximum number of electrons possible in each shell.

    Shell or Orbit Number 1 2 3 4 5

    Maximum Number of Electrons 2 8 18 32 50

    The most electrons possible in the first shell are 2. After the first shell is filled, the second shell starts filling up, according to the number of positive charges in the nucleus. The most allowed in the second shell is 8 electrons. Then the third shell starts to fill.

    Electron shells for a Sodium atom
    (atomic number 11, with 11 electrons)
    Filling order complicated

    After the second orbit or shell is filled, things start to get complicated. The third shell fills until it gets to 8, and then the fourth shell starts adding electrons until it too has 8 electrons. Then the third shell fills until it gets to 18.
    Outer shell basis of Chemistry

    The number of electrons in each shell can be seen by using the
    Periodic Table, which is a lesson in Chemistry. In fact, the basis of chemical combinations depends on the number of electrons in the outer orbit or shell.
    Energy levels

    Electrons have potential energy, depending on their shell or orbit. Energy levels are assigned to each orbit. There are some situations when an electron will jump from one orbitor energy levelto another. When that happens, the electron gives off electromagnetic energy of one wavelength or color of light.
    Since each element has its own electron shell or energy level configuration, it also has its own set of colors for the different possible electron orbit jumps. This fact is used in identifying elements that are giving off light.

    The solar system model of the atom is a good way to describe an atom. The nucleus is at the center of the atom and consists of protons and neutrons. There are normally just as many electrons as protons in an atom. The electrons are distributed in shells around the nucleus, according to certain rules. The outer shell is the basis for Chemistry.

  3. #3

    Jul 2011

    : .. The Atom

  4. #4

    Jul 2012

    : .. The Atom

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