Rutherford?s Atomic Model: A Classic Invention!

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Rutherford?s atomic model is said to be one of the most classic models of an atom even though it no longer stand accurately. The model shows an atom as an empty space where electrons orbit a positively charged fixed nucleus in a predictable and set paths.

Rutherford?s atomic model is said to be one of the most classic models of an atom even though it no longer stand accurately. The model shows an atom as an empty space where electrons orbit a positively charged fixed nucleus in a predictable and set paths.

The model was developed by Ernest Rutherford in 1900s. Rutherford researched extensively on radioactivity and won the Nobel Prize for his discoveries in 1908. It was then that he started developing the model of the atom. John Dalton said that everything was made up of tiny invisible particle called atoms and then later, J.J. Thomson speculated that those atoms contained negatively charged particles known as electrons. With these two already in mind, he started developing his own model.

He did an experiment by using a thin sheet of gold and bombarding it with alpha particles. He then studied the path of these alpha particles after they interacted with the gold foil.

THE GOLD FOIL EXPERIMENT

The gold foil experiment was conducted in 1909. During this experiment, Hans Geiger and Rutherford bombarded positively charged alpha particles on a piece of foil and expected that they would travel in a straight direction through the foil. But their expectations were not fulfilled as majority of the alpha particles rebounded off the foil. This suggested that there was presence of something positive that these particles have been colliding with. They named the positive force as the nucleus. And thus, the Rutherford?s model was created on this data only.

The conclusions made were-

? Most of the space in an atom is empty since a major part of the alpha particle passed right through the foil without deflection.

? The positive charge in an atom is not equally distributed since some of the alpha particles deflected at very small angles.

? The total volume of an atom is larger and the volume occupied by positive charge is less in comparison since only a few alpha particles had 1800 of deflection.

LIMITATIONS OF RUTHERFORD?S ATOMIC MODEL

? After the years that followed after the discovery of the nucleus by Rutherford, the particle physicists found out that the behaviour of the electron was much more complicated than the one shown in the Rutherford model.

? The electrons did not move in the set specific paths and their speeds were not consistent in nature and also their location around the nucleus was able to change on the basis of the energy that they possessed. Thus, no longer could it assume that the electrons moved in straight paths.

? Currently, the electron cloud model is the current model of the atom.

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