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What is an Atom?

It is a basic unit of matter that consists of a dense central nucleus surrounded by a cloud of negatively charged electrons. The atomic nucleus contains a mix of positively charged protons and electrically neutral neutrons (except in the case of hydrogen-1, which is the only stable nuclide with no neutrons).

The name atom comes from the Greek (atomos, "indivisible") from - (a-, "not") and (temn, "I cut"), which means uncuttable, or indivisible, something that cannot be divided further. In the 18th and 19th centuries, chemists provided a physical basis for this idea by showing that certain substances could not be further broken down by chemical methods, and they applied the ancient philosophical name of atom to the chemical entity.

Further progress in the understanding of atoms did not occur until the science of chemistry began to develop. In 1789, French nobleman and scientific researcher Antoine Lavoisier discovered the law of conservation of mass and defined an element as a basic substance that could not be further broken down by the methods of chemistry.

In 1805, English instructor and natural philosopher John Dalton used the concept of atoms to explain why elements always react in ratios of small whole numbers (the law of multiple proportions) and why certain gases dissolved better in water than others. He proposed that each element consists of atoms of a single, unique type, and that these atoms can join together to form chemical compounds. Dalton is considered the originator of modern atomic theory.

Dalton's atomic hypothesis did not specify the size of atoms. Common sense indicated they must be very small, but nobody knew how small.

Therefore it was a major landmark when in 1865 Johann Josef Loschmidt measured the size of the molecules that make up air.

Subcomponents and Quantum Theory:

The physicist J. J. Thomson, through his work on cathode rays in 1897, discovered the electron, and concluded that they were a component of every atom. Thomson postulated that the low mass, negatively charged electrons were distributed throughout the atom, possibly rotating in rings, with their charge balanced by the presence of a uniform sea of positive charge. This later became known as the plum pudding model.

In 1909, Hans Geiger and Ernest Marsden, under the direction of physicist Ernest Rutherford, bombarded a sheet of gold foil with alpha rays by then known to be positively charged helium atomsand discovered that a small percentage of these particles were deflected through much larger angles than was predicted using Thomson's proposal. Rutherford interpreted the gold foil experiment as suggesting that the positive charge of a heavy gold atom and most of its mass was concentrated in a nucleus at the center of the atom the Rutherford model.

Rutherfords Gold Foil Experiment

Subatomic Particles
The constituent particles of an atom are the electron, the proton and the neutron. However, the hydrogen-1 atom has no neutrons and a positive hydrogen ion has no electrons.

Electrons ( e )
It is a subatomic particle with a

negative elementary electric charge. It is generally thought to be an elementary particle electron because it has no known components or substructure. It is by far the least massive of these particles at 9.111031 kg and a size that is too small to be measured using available techniques.

Protons ( Z )
have a positive charge and a mass 1,836 times that of the electron, at 1.67261027 kg, although this can be reduced by changes to the energy binding the proton into an atom.

Neutron ( N )
have a positive charge and a mass 1,836 times that of the electron, at 1.67261027 kg, although this can be reduced by changes to the energy binding the proton into an atom.

What is a Periodic Table?

is a tabular arrangement of the chemical elements, organized on the basis of their atomic numbers, electron configurations, and recurring chemical properties. Elements are presented in order of increasing atomic number (number of protons). The standard form of the table comprises an 18-column-by-7-row main grid of elements, with a double row of elements below. The table can also be deconstructed into four rectangular blocks: the s-block to the left, the pblock to the right, the d-block in the middle, and the f-block below that.

First systemization attempts
In 1789, Antoine Lavoisier published a list of 33 chemical elements, grouping them into gases, metals, nonmetals, and earths; Chemists spent the following century searching for a more precise classification scheme. In 1829, Johann Wolfgang Dbereiner observed that many of the elements could be grouped into triads based on their chemical properties. Lithium, sodium, and potassium, for example, were grouped together in a triad as soft, reactive metals. Dbereiner also observed that, when arranged by atomic weight, the second member of each triad was roughly the average of the first and the third; this became known as the Law of Triads.

German chemist Leopold Gmelin worked with this system, and by 1843 he had identified ten triads, three groups of four, and one group of five. Jean-Baptiste Dumas published work in 1857 describing relationships between various groups of metals. Although various chemists were able to identify relationships between small groups of elements, they had yet to build one scheme that encompassed them all.

Mendeleevs Table
Russian chemistry professor Dmitri Mendeleev and German chemist Julius Lothar Meyer independently published their periodic tables in 1869 and 1870, respectively. Mendeleev's table was his first published version; that of Meyer was an expanded version of his (Meyer's) table of 1864. They both constructed their tables by listing the elements in rows or columns in order of atomic weight and starting a new row or column when the characteristics of the elements began to repeat.

Further Development

Alternative Lay-out

It is a column of elements in the periodic table of the chemical elements. There are 18 numbered groups in the standard periodic table, including the d-block elements, but excluding the f-block elements. The elements in a group have similar physical or chemical characteristic of the outermost electron shells of their atoms, as most chemical properties are dominated by the orbital location of the outermost electron.

CAS and old IUPAC numbering

Both use numerals (Arabic or Roman) and letters A and B. Both systems agree on the numbers. The numbers indicate approximately the highest oxidation number of the elements in that group, and so indicate similar chemistry with other elements with the same numeral. The number proceeds in a linearly increasing fashion for the most part, once on the left of the table, and once on the right, with some irregularities in the transition metals.

It is a horizontal row in the periodic table. Although groups generally have more significant periodic trends, there are regions where horizontal trends are more significant than vertical group trends, such as the f-block, where the lanthanides and actinides form two substantial horizontal series of elements. Elements in the same period show trends in atomic radius, ionization energy, electron affinity, and electronegativity.

Because of the importance of the outermost electron shell, the different regions of the periodic table are sometimes referred to as blocks, named according to the sub-shell in which the "last" electron resides. The s-block comprises the first two groups (alkali metals and alkaline earth metals) as well as hydrogen and helium. The p-block comprises the last six groups which are groups 13 to 18 in IUPAC (3A to 8A in American) and contains, among other elements, all of the metalloids. The d-block comprises groups 3 to 12 in IUPAC (or 3B to 2B in American group numbering) and contains all of the transition metals. The f-block, usually offset below the rest of the periodic table, comprises the lanthanides and actinides.

Electronic Configuration
The electron configuration or organisation of electrons orbiting neutral atoms shows a recurring pattern or periodicity. The electrons occupy a series of electron shells (numbered shell 1, shell 2, and so on). Each shell consists of one or more sub-shells (named s, p, d, f and g) As atomic number increases, electrons progressively fill these shells and subshells more or less according to the Madelung rule or energy ordering rule, as shown in the diagram to the right.

Atomic radii
Atomic radii vary in a predictable and explainable manner across the periodic table. For instance, the radii generally decrease along each period of the table, from the alkali metals to the noble gases; and increase down each group. The radius increases sharply between the noble gas at the end of each period and the alkali metal at the beginning of the next period.

Ionization Energy
The first ionization energy is the energy it takes to remove one electron from an atom, the second ionization energy is the energy it takes to remove a second electron from the atom, and so on. For a given atom, successive ionization energies increase with the degree of ionization. For magnesium as an example, the first ionization energy is 738 kJ/mol and the second is 1450 kJ/mol.

It is the tendency of an atom to attract electrons. An atom's electronegativity is affected by both its atomic number and the distance between the valence electrons and the nucleus. The higher its electronegativity, the more an element attracts electrons. It was first proposed by Linus Pauling in 1932.

In general, electronegativity increases on passing from left to right along a period, and decreases on descending a group.

Electron affinity
The electron affinity of an atom is the amount of energy released when an electron is added to a neutral atom to form a negative ion. Although electron affinity varies greatly, some patterns emerge. Generally, non-metals have more positive electron affinity values than metals. Chlorine most strongly attracts an extra electron.

Metallic character
The lower the values of ionization energy, electronegativity and electron affinity, the more metallic character the element has. Conversely, nonmetallic character increases with higher values of these properties. Given the periodic trends of these three properties, metallic character tends to decrease going across a period and, with some irregularities (mostly) due to poor screening of the nucleus by d and f electrons, and relativistic effects, tends to increase going down a group.