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Theory of Atomic Structure

Thomson, Rutherford, and Neils Bohrs theories
The Hydrogen atom
Properties of the atom, Ions, Protons Neutrons and
Millikans oil-drop experiment
Properties of the Atomic nucleus
Natural Radioactivity
Wave Particle duality of Light
Photo electricity
Thermionic Emission
Diode Valve etc.

ATOMS, IONS & ELECTRONS Historical Background:

It was J.J. Thomson who proved that Atoms contain tiny
Called Electrons. Hence, atoms Are structurally made
up of positively
and negatively charged particles. Atoms are known to
be electrically neutral particles, hence, the positive and
negative charges must be numerically equal.
At about the time J.J. Thomson demonstrated the
existence of the electron a fundamental unit of
negative electricity with very small mass; Becquerel
discovered the phenomenon of natural radioactivity;

and Roentgen discovered the X-rays. To these

discoveries Max Planck explained the distribution of
energy in the spectrum of the radiation from blackbody,
i.e., that electromagnetic radiation in its interaction
with matter, is emitted or absorbed in whole units
called QUANTA of energy, and each quanta has an
energy E = hv, where v is the frequency of radiation
emitted or absorbed and h is known as Plancks
Albert Einstein (1905) extended Plancks hypothesis by
showing that electromagnetic radiation in its interaction
with matter, behaves as though it consists of particles
called Photons, where each photon has an energy E =
Rutherford (1911) proposed a new theory of scattering
of alpha a particles by matter. He proposed a simple
model of the atom that is for a large angle scattering of
these alpha-a particles to be possible, there must be an
intense electric field near an atom. He assumed that
the positive charge of the atom instead of being
distributed uniformly throughout a region of the size of
an atom, is concentrated min a minute Centre known as
the Nucleus, and that the negative charge is distributed
over a sphere of a radius comparable with the atomic
radius. On this model, an alpha a particle can penetrate
very close to the nucleus before the repulsive force on
it becomes large enough to turn it back, but the
repulsive force can then be very large and can result in
very large deflection. At the same time, when an alphaa particle is near the nucleus, nit is relatively far from
the negative charges which are spread over a large
volume so that the attractive forces exerted on the
alpha particle by the electrons can be neglected.

Rutherford assumed that the nuclear and alpha particle

charges act as point charges and that the scattering of
the alpha particles is caused by the repulsive
electrostatic force between the nucleus and the alpha
particles. If the magnitude of the alpha particle charge
is 2e and that of the nucleus is ze, where z is an
integer, and r is the distance between the two charges,
then the magnitude of the force is F = 2ze/r2


Electrons, Protons and Neutrons are known as subparticles.
The first modern atomic theory was proposed by John
Dalton. He proposed that an element was composed of
atoms of identical size and mass. These particles were
indivisible and remained unchanged during a chemical
Dalton and other Scientists discovered that the atom
was not indivisible, but consisted of subatomic particles
such as electrons, protons, and neutrons.
J.J. Thomson was the first scientist to identify electrons
through his work on Cathode rays. Cathode rays
consisted of streams of negatively charged particles
called Electrons. He was able to determine the chargeto-mass ratio (e/m) of these electrons. In all his
experiments the value of e/m was the same. He
therefore concluded that all atoms contained electrons.
In 1909 Millikan, through his oil-drop experiment
determined the charge (e) of an electron. When
combined with Thomsons value for e/m, the mass of an
electron can be calculated to be:

e = 1.602 x 10 -19C
m = 9.110 x 10-29gm

The Proton: The Proton was the second sub-atomic

particle to be discovered in 1886 by Goldstein. These
particles are known as positive rays.
Rutherford in 1899 discovered alpha (a) and Beta (b)
radiation. Hence by all of these experiments there is
evidence that the atom consists of very small positively
charged nucleus surrounded by a large space
containing light negatively charged electrons.
Rutherford then went on to propose the existence of the
Proton and showed that its mass was 1800 times that of
an electron.
The Neutron: The neutron was predicted by Rutherford
I 1920 to account for the difference between atomic
mass and atomic number. This was later proven
experimentally in 1932 by J. Chadwick. He showed that
these neutron particles were electrically neutral and
called them neutrons.
Models of the Atom: In 1913 Neils Bohr described the
model of an atom. He viewed the atom as a positive
nucleus surrounded by electrons, and suggested that
the electrons travelled in circular orbits around the
nucleus. These orbits had different energies, hence an
electron could gain or lose energy by jumping from one
orbit to another.
Quanta: In 1900, Max Planck suggested that energy
could be only be absorbed or emitted in discrete
quantities called QUANTA. The magnitude of E of these

bundles of energy were related to the frequency ( v ) of

the energy by a constant ( h), known as Plancks
constant. Thus:
E = hv
Hence, the higher the energy of a quantum, the higher
its frequency.
Einstein, in 1905 postulated that light was composed of
particles called photons. He used this theory to explain
why metal surfaces emitted electrons when light was
shown on them. This phenomenon was known as the
Photoelectric Effect. Hence Light was seen to have a
dual nature. It could behave as waves by forming
interference and diffraction pattern or it could behave
as a beam of particles as is the case in photoelectric
Mass of an Atom: The Atomic mass number is the
number of protons and neutrons in a nucleus. It is given
a symbol (A). A nucleus is often called a nuclide and the
nuclear particles protons, and neutrons sometimes
called Nucleons.
The Atomic Number: The atomic number of an element
is the number of Protons in the nucleus. It is
represented by letter (z). Atomic number is related to
the mass number as follows:
Where N is the number of neutrons in the nucleus. Each
element has its own atomic number. No two elements
can have the same atomic number. The atomic number
is not only the number of protons in a nucleus, but is
also equal to the number of electrons surrounding the

nucleus. This is because there is no net charge on an

atom. The number of protons thus equals the number of
electrons. This does not apply to ions which are charged


The Elementary Particles:
One of the most spectacular developments in todays
Physics is the discovery that a remarkable number
(thirty, in fact) of elementary particles exist. Only 9 of
these elementary particles were known before World
War 11. The mystery surrounding these particles were
removed by a combination of elegant experiments and
powerful, even if unconventional, theoretical analysis. It
is important to note that the discovery of these
particles and evolution of concepts associated with
them has systemized mans knowledge of this field of

The concept of elementary particles has risen from

mans age-old search for the ultimate, fundamental,
and indivisible units of which matter is composed. With
the work of J.J. Thomson and Rutherford came the belief
that all the listed 92 different types of atoms were
themselves made from just elementary particles the
electron and the proton. These are stable, indivisible
particles with unique masses and have the following
1. The electron is a very tiny chunk of matter with a
mass of 10 exp. -27g. The proton has a mass of
about 2000 times greater.
2. The electron carries a negative charge of about 10
exp.-10 esu,
While the charge of the proton is positive and of the
same magnitude as the electron.
The work of Planck and Einstein later added to this list
of a third elementary particle, the Photon. They
recognized that the radiation of energy of an
electromagnetic field exists in the discrete units called
photons. On this view, light consists of a stream of
photons, all travelling with the same velocity.
The electron, proton, and photon interact with each
other as follows:
1. According to Maxwells classical theory, all charged
particles emit or absorb electromagnetic radiation
when accelerated. This means that electrons or
protons emit or absorb photons.
2. According to Maxwells theory, one charged particle
attracts or repels another charged particle by first
producing an electromagnetic field, and this field in
turn acts on the second charged particle. We can

view this as an emission of one (or many) photons

from one electron and re-absorption by the second.
3. The emission or absorption of photons and their
exchange between two electrons or an electron, and
photon proceed in accordance with conservation law.


These three particles are the building blocks of an
atom. Electrons,
Protons and neutrons each possesses a definite mass,
but while electrons have negative charge, the proton has positive
charge; the neutron has no charge, it is electrically neutral. It is
estimated that the mass of an electron is only 1/1840 that of a
proton or a neutron.
The electron and proton both possess electric charges which are
of the same magnitude but of opposite sign; usually denoted by
e and +e respectively. The electric forces due to their charges
produce attraction between an electron and a proton, repulsion
between two electrons or two protons, and no force between
either of the two and the neutron as this neutron possesses no
electric charge at all.
The question on has to ask is that of the role of a neutron. If the
neutron is acted on by no electric force, how then can it be
cemented into the scheme of material structure? The answer is
that neutrons and protons both possess another source of force
which is quite different in character from electrical force. They
possess a Nucleic charge, as distinct from electric charge. Two
nucleic charges attract each other with a force which falls off
very much more rapidly as the distance between them increases
than does that between two electric charges. At small distances,
however, of the order of the radius of the particles, the nucleic

attraction between two protons far exceeds the repulsion due to

their electric charges.