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Structure of the atom

As a result of the work done by previous scientists on atomic models (that we discussed in "Models of the Atom" ), scientists now have a good idea of what an atom looks like. This knowledge is important because it helps us to understand why materials have different properties and why some materials bond with others. Let us now take a closer look at the microscopic structure of the atom.

So far, we have discussed that atoms are made up of a positively charged nucleus surrounded by one or more negatively charged electrons . These electrons orbit the nucleus.

Before we look at some useful concepts we first need to understand what electrons, protons and neutrons are.

The electron

The electron is a very light particle. It has a mass of 9 , 11 × 10 - 31 kg . Scientists believe that the electron can be treated as a point particle or elementary particle meaning that it can't be broken down into anything smaller. The electron also carries one unit of negative electric charge which is the same as 1 , 6 × 10 - 19 C (Coulombs).

The electrons determine the charge on an atom. If the number of electrons is the same as the number of protons then the atom will be neutral. If the number of electrons is greater than the number of protons then the atom will be negatively charged. If the number of electrons is less than the number of protons then the atom will be positively charged. Atoms that are not neutral are called ions. Ions will be covered in more detail in a later chapter. For now all you need to know is that for each electron you remove from an atom you loose - 1 of charge and for each electron that you add to an atom you gain + 1 of charge. For example, the charge on an atom of sodium after removing one electron is - 1 .

The nucleus

Unlike the electron, the nucleus can be broken up into smaller building blocks called protons and neutrons . Together, the protons and neutrons are called nucleons .

The proton

Each proton carries one unit of positive electric charge. Since we know that atoms are electrically neutral , i.e. do not carry any extra charge, then the number of protons in an atom has to be the same as the number of electrons to balanceout the positive and negative charge to zero. The total positive charge of a nucleus is equal to the number of protons in the nucleus. The proton is much heavierthan the electron (10 000 times heavier!) and has a mass of 1 , 6726 × 10 - 27 kg . When we talk about the atomic mass of an atom, we are mostly referring to the combined mass of the protons and neutrons, i.e. the nucleons.

The neutron

The neutron is electrically neutral i.e. it carries no charge at all. Like the proton, it is much heavier than the electron and its mass is 1 , 6749 × 10 - 27 kg (slightly heavier than the proton).

Interesting fact

Rutherford predicted (in 1920) that another kind of particle must be present in the nucleus along with the proton. He predicted this becauseif there were only positively charged protons in the nucleus, then it should break into bits because of the repulsive forces between the like-charged protons! Also,if protons were the only particles in the nucleus, then a helium nucleus (atomic number 2) would havetwo protons and therefore only twice the mass of hydrogen. However, it is actually four times heavier than hydrogen. This suggested that there must be something else inside the nucleus as well as the protons.To make sure that the atom stays electrically neutral, this particle would have to be neutral itself. In 1932 James Chadwick discovered the neutron and measured its mass.

Questions & Answers

anyone know any internet site where one can find nanotechnology papers?
Damian Reply
research.net
kanaga
Introduction about quantum dots in nanotechnology
Praveena Reply
what does nano mean?
Anassong Reply
nano basically means 10^(-9). nanometer is a unit to measure length.
Bharti
do you think it's worthwhile in the long term to study the effects and possibilities of nanotechnology on viral treatment?
Damian Reply
absolutely yes
Daniel
how to know photocatalytic properties of tio2 nanoparticles...what to do now
Akash Reply
it is a goid question and i want to know the answer as well
Maciej
characteristics of micro business
Abigail
for teaching engĺish at school how nano technology help us
Anassong
Do somebody tell me a best nano engineering book for beginners?
s. Reply
there is no specific books for beginners but there is book called principle of nanotechnology
NANO
what is fullerene does it is used to make bukky balls
Devang Reply
are you nano engineer ?
s.
fullerene is a bucky ball aka Carbon 60 molecule. It was name by the architect Fuller. He design the geodesic dome. it resembles a soccer ball.
Tarell
what is the actual application of fullerenes nowadays?
Damian
That is a great question Damian. best way to answer that question is to Google it. there are hundreds of applications for buck minister fullerenes, from medical to aerospace. you can also find plenty of research papers that will give you great detail on the potential applications of fullerenes.
Tarell
what is the Synthesis, properties,and applications of carbon nano chemistry
Abhijith Reply
Mostly, they use nano carbon for electronics and for materials to be strengthened.
Virgil
is Bucky paper clear?
CYNTHIA
carbon nanotubes has various application in fuel cells membrane, current research on cancer drug,and in electronics MEMS and NEMS etc
NANO
so some one know about replacing silicon atom with phosphorous in semiconductors device?
s. Reply
Yeah, it is a pain to say the least. You basically have to heat the substarte up to around 1000 degrees celcius then pass phosphene gas over top of it, which is explosive and toxic by the way, under very low pressure.
Harper
Do you know which machine is used to that process?
s.
how to fabricate graphene ink ?
SUYASH Reply
for screen printed electrodes ?
SUYASH
What is lattice structure?
s. Reply
of graphene you mean?
Ebrahim
or in general
Ebrahim
in general
s.
Graphene has a hexagonal structure
tahir
On having this app for quite a bit time, Haven't realised there's a chat room in it.
Cied
what is biological synthesis of nanoparticles
Sanket Reply
what's the easiest and fastest way to the synthesize AgNP?
Damian Reply
China
Cied
types of nano material
abeetha Reply
I start with an easy one. carbon nanotubes woven into a long filament like a string
Porter
many many of nanotubes
Porter
what is the k.e before it land
Yasmin
what is the function of carbon nanotubes?
Cesar
I'm interested in nanotube
Uday
what is nanomaterials​ and their applications of sensors.
Ramkumar Reply
how did you get the value of 2000N.What calculations are needed to arrive at it
Smarajit Reply
Privacy Information Security Software Version 1.1a
Good
The fundamental frequency of a sonometer wire streached by a load of relative density 's'are n¹ and n² when the load is in air and completly immersed in water respectively then the lation n²/na is
Mukesh Reply
Properties of longitudinal waves
Sharoon Reply

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Source:  OpenStax, Siyavula textbooks: grade 10 physical science [caps]. OpenStax CNX. Sep 30, 2011 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11305/1.7
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