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An atom is the smallest unit of ordinary
matter In classical physics and general chemistry, matter is any substance that has mass and takes up space by having volume. All everyday objects that can be touched are ultimately composed of atoms, which are made up of interacting subatomic particl ...
that forms a
chemical element upright=1.0, 500px, The chemical elements ordered by link=Periodic table In chemistry Chemistry is the science, scientific study of the properties and behavior of matter. It is a natural science that covers the Chemical element, eleme ...
. Every
solid Solid is one of the four fundamental states of matter (the others being liquid A liquid is a nearly incompressible fluid In physics, a fluid is a substance that continually Deformation (mechanics), deforms (flows) under an applied ...

solid
,
liquid A liquid is a nearly incompressible In fluid mechanics or more generally continuum mechanics, incompressible flow (isochoric process, isochoric flow) refers to a fluid flow, flow in which the material density is constant within a fluid par ...

liquid
,
gas Gas is one of the four fundamental states of matter (the others being solid Solid is one of the four fundamental states of matter (the others being liquid, gas and plasma). The molecules in a solid are closely packed together and c ...

gas
, and
plasma Plasma or plasm may refer to: Science * Plasma (physics), one of the four fundamental states of matter * Plasma (mineral) or heliotrope, a mineral aggregate * Quark–gluon plasma, a state of matter in quantum chromodynamics Biology * Blood plasma ...
is composed of neutral or
ionized Ionization or ionisation is the process by which an atom An atom is the smallest unit of ordinary matter In classical physics and general chemistry, matter is any substance that has mass and takes up space by having volume. All everyday ...
atoms. Atoms are extremely small, typically around 100 
picometer The picometre (international spelling Spelling is a set of conventions that regulate the way of using grapheme In linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of l ...
s across. They are so small that accurately predicting their behavior using
classical physics Classical physics is a group of physics theories that predate modern, more complete, or more widely applicable theories. If a currently accepted theory is considered to be modern, and its introduction represented a major paradigm shift, then the ...
—as if they were tennis balls, for example—is not possible due to
quantum effects Quantum mechanics is a fundamental theory A theory is a reason, rational type of abstraction, abstract thinking about a phenomenon, or the results of such thinking. The process of contemplative and rational thinking is often associated with s ...
. Every atom is composed of a
nucleus ''Nucleus'' (plural nuclei) is a Latin word for the seed inside a fruit. It most often refers to: *Atomic nucleus, the very dense central region of an atom *Cell nucleus, a central organelle of a eukaryotic cell, containing most of the cell's DNA ...
and one or more
electron The electron is a subatomic particle In physical sciences, subatomic particles are smaller than atom An atom is the smallest unit of ordinary matter In classical physics and general chemistry, matter is any substance that has ma ...

electron
s bound to the nucleus. The nucleus is made of one or more
proton A proton is a subatomic particle, symbol or , with a positive electric charge of +1''e'' elementary charge and a mass slightly less than that of a neutron. Protons and neutrons, each with masses of approximately one atomic mass unit, are collecti ...

proton
s and a number of
neutron The neutron is a subatomic particle, symbol or , which has a neutral (not positive or negative) charge, and a mass slightly greater than that of a proton. Protons and neutrons constitute the nuclei of atoms. Since protons and neutrons behav ...

neutron
s. Only the most common variety of
hydrogen Hydrogen is the chemical element Image:Simple Periodic Table Chart-blocks.svg, 400px, Periodic table, The periodic table of the chemical elements In chemistry, an element is a pure substance consisting only of atoms that all have the same ...

hydrogen
has no neutrons. More than 99.94% of an atom's
mass Mass is the quantity Quantity is a property that can exist as a multitude or magnitude, which illustrate discontinuity and continuity. Quantities can be compared in terms of "more", "less", or "equal", or by assigning a numerical value ...
is in the nucleus. The protons have a positive
electric charge Electric charge is the physical property A physical property is any property Property is a system of rights that gives people legal control of valuable things, and also refers to the valuable things themselves. Depending on the nature of th ...
, the electrons have a negative electric charge, and the neutrons have no electric charge. If the number of protons and electrons are equal, then the atom is electrically neutral. If an atom has more or fewer electrons than protons, then it has an overall negative or positive charge, respectively – such atoms are called
ion An ion () is an atom An atom is the smallest unit of ordinary matter In classical physics and general chemistry, matter is any substance that has mass and takes up space by having volume. All everyday objects that can be touched are ...
s. The electrons of an atom are attracted to the protons in an atomic nucleus by the
electromagnetic force Electromagnetism is a branch of physics Physics is the natural science that studies matter, its Elementary particle, fundamental constituents, its Motion (physics), motion and behavior through Spacetime, space and time, and the related ...
. The protons and neutrons in the nucleus are attracted to each other by the
nuclear force The nuclear force (or nucleon–nucleon interaction, residual strong force, or, historically, strong nuclear force) is a force that acts between the protons and neutrons of atoms. Neutrons and protons, both nucleons, are affected by the nuclea ...

nuclear force
. This force is usually stronger than the electromagnetic force that repels the positively charged protons from one another. Under certain circumstances, the repelling electromagnetic force becomes stronger than the nuclear force. In this case, the nucleus
splits A split (commonly referred to as splits or the splits) is a physical position in which the legs are in line with each other and extended in opposite directions. Splits are commonly performed in various athletic activities, including dance ...

splits
and leaves behind different elements. This is a form of
nuclear decay Radioactive decay (also known as nuclear decay, radioactivity, radioactive disintegration or nuclear disintegration) is the process by which an unstable atomic nucleus The atomic nucleus is the small, dense region consisting of proton A ...
. The number of protons in the nucleus is the ''
atomic number 300px, The Rutherford–Bohr model of the hydrogen atom () or a hydrogen-like ion (). In this model it is an essential feature that the photon energy (or frequency) of the electromagnetic radiation emitted (shown) when an electron jumps from one ...
'' and it defines to which chemical element the atom belongs. For example, any atom that contains 29 protons is
copper Copper is a chemical element with the Symbol (chemistry), symbol Cu (from la, cuprum) and atomic number 29. It is a soft, malleable, and ductility, ductile metal with very high thermal conductivity, thermal and electrical conductivity. A fre ...

copper
. The number of neutrons defines the
isotope Isotopes are two or more types of atoms that have the same atomic number (number of protons A proton is a subatomic particle, symbol or , with a positive electric charge Electric charge is the physical property of matter that causes it ...
of the element. Atoms can attach to one or more other atoms by
chemical bond A chemical bond is a lasting attraction between atom An atom is the smallest unit of ordinary matter In classical physics and general chemistry, matter is any substance that has mass and takes up space by having volume. All everyday ...
s to form
chemical compound A chemical compound is a chemical substance A chemical substance is a form of matter In classical physics and general chemistry, matter is any substance that has mass and takes up space by having volume. All everyday objects that can be ...
s such as
molecule A scanning tunneling microscopy image of pentacene molecules, which consist of linear chains of five carbon rings. A molecule is an electrically Electricity is the set of physical phenomena associated with the presence and motion I ...

molecule
s or
crystal A crystal or crystalline solid is a solid material whose constituents (such as atoms, molecules, or ions) are arranged in a highly ordered microscopic structure, forming a crystal lattice that extends in all directions. In addition, macrosco ...

crystal
s. The ability of atoms to associate and dissociate is responsible for most of the physical changes observed in nature.
Chemistry Chemistry is the study of the properties and behavior of . It is a that covers the that make up matter to the composed of s, s and s: their composition, structure, properties, behavior and the changes they undergo during a with other . ...

Chemistry
is the discipline that studies these changes.


History of atomic theory


In philosophy

The basic idea that matter is made up of tiny indivisible particles is very old, appearing in many ancient cultures such as
Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, Elláda, ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe, Southeastern Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 million as of 2021; Athens is its largest and capital city, followed ...

Greece
and
India India, officially the Republic of India (Hindi: ), is a country in South Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by area, seventh-largest country by area, the List of countries and dependencies by population, second-most populous ...

India
. The word ''atom'' is derived from the ancient Greek word ''atomos'', which means "uncuttable". This ancient idea was based in philosophical reasoning rather than scientific reasoning, and modern atomic theory is not based on these old concepts. That said, the word "atom" itself was used throughout the ages by thinkers who suspected that matter was ultimately granular in nature.


Dalton's law of multiple proportions

In the early 1800s, an English chemist
John Dalton John Dalton (; 6 September 1766 – 27 July 1844) was an English , and . He is best known for introducing the into chemistry, and for his research into , sometimes referred to as Daltonism in his honour. Early life John Dalton was born ...

John Dalton
compiled experimental data gathered by himself and other scientists and discovered a pattern now known as the "
law of multiple proportions In chemistry, the law of multiple proportions states that if two elements form more than one compound, then the ratios of the masses of the second element which combine with a fixed mass of the first element will always be ratios of small whole n ...
". He noticed that in chemical compounds which contain a particular chemical element, the content of that element in these compounds will differ by ratios of small whole numbers. This pattern suggested to Dalton that each chemical element combines with others by some basic and consistent unit of mass. For example, there are two types of
tin oxideTin oxide may refer to: * Tin(II) oxide (stannous oxide), a black powder with the formula SnO * Tin(IV) oxide Tin(IV) oxide, also known as stannic oxide, is the inorganic compound with the chemical formula, formula SnO2. The mineral form of SnO2 is ...
: one is a black powder that is 88.1% tin and 11.9% oxygen, and the other is a white powder that is 78.7% tin and 21.3% oxygen. Adjusting these figures, in the black oxide there is about 13.5 g of oxygen for every 100 g of tin, and in the white oxide there is about 27 g of oxygen for every 100 g of tin. 13.5 and 27 form a ratio of 1:2. In these oxides, for every tin atom there are one or two oxygen atoms respectively (
SnO
SnO
and SnO2). As a second example, Dalton considered two
iron oxide Iron oxides are chemical compounds composed of iron and oxygen Oxygen is the chemical element with the chemical symbol, symbol O and atomic number 8. It is a member of the chalcogen Group (periodic table), group in the periodic table, ...

iron oxide
s: a black powder which is 78.1% iron and 21.9% oxygen, and a red powder which is 70.4% iron and 29.6% oxygen. Adjusting these figures, in the black oxide there is about 28 g of oxygen for every 100 g of iron, and in the red oxide there is about 42 g of oxygen for every 100 g of iron. 28 and 42 form a ratio of 2:3. In these respective oxides, for every two atoms of iron, there are two or three atoms of oxygen (
Fe2O2
Fe<sub>2</sub>O<sub>2</sub>
and Fe2O3). As a final example:
nitrous oxide Nitrous oxide, commonly known as laughing gas or nitrous, is a chemical compound, an Nitrogen oxide, oxide of nitrogen with the Chemical formula, formula . At room temperature, it is a colourless Flammability#Definitions, non-flammable gas, ...
is 63.3% nitrogen and 36.7% oxygen,
nitric oxide Nitric oxide ( nitrogen oxide or nitrogen monoxide) is a colorless gas with the formula . It is one of the principal oxides of nitrogen. Nitric oxide is a free radical, i.e., it has an unpaired electron, which is sometimes denoted by a dot i ...

nitric oxide
is 44.05% nitrogen and 55.95% oxygen, and
nitrogen dioxide Nitrogen dioxide is a chemical compound A chemical compound is a chemical substance A chemical substance is a form of matter In classical physics and general chemistry, matter is any substance that has mass and takes up space by hav ...

nitrogen dioxide
is 29.5% nitrogen and 70.5% oxygen. Adjusting these figures, in nitrous oxide there is 80 g of oxygen for every 140 g of nitrogen, in nitric oxide there is about 160 g of oxygen for every 140 g of nitrogen, and in nitrogen dioxide there is 320 g of oxygen for every 140 g of nitrogen. 80, 160, and 320 form a ratio of 1:2:4. The respective formulas for these oxides are N2O,
NO
NO
, and
NO2
NO<sub>2</sub>
.


Kinetic theory of gases

In the late 18th century, a number of scientists found that they could better explain the behavior of gases by describing them as collections of sub-microscopic particles and modelling their behavior using
statistics Statistics is the discipline that concerns the collection, organization, analysis, interpretation, and presentation of data Data (; ) are individual facts, statistics, or items of information, often numeric. In a more technical sens ...

statistics
and
probability Probability is the branch of mathematics Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as numbers (arithmetic and number theory), formulas and related structures (algebra), shapes and spaces in which they are contained ...

probability
. Unlike Dalton's atomic theory, the kinetic theory of gases describes not how gases react chemically with each other to form compounds, but how they behave physically: diffusion, viscosity, conductivity, pressure, etc.


Brownian motion

In 1827,
botanist Botany, also called , plant biology or phytology, is the science of plant life and a branch of biology. A botanist, plant scientist or phytologist is a scientist who specialises in this field. The term "botany" comes from the Ancient Greek wo ...

botanist
Robert Brown used a microscope to look at dust grains floating in water and discovered that they moved about erratically, a phenomenon that became known as "
Brownian motion File:Brownian motion large.gif, This is a simulation of the Brownian motion of a big particle (dust particle) that collides with a large set of smaller particles (molecules of a gas) which move with different velocities in different random dire ...

Brownian motion
". This was thought to be caused by water molecules knocking the grains about. In 1905,
Albert Einstein Albert Einstein ( ; ; 14 March 1879 – 18 April 1955) was a German-born , widely acknowledged to be one of the greatest physicists of all time. Einstein is known for developing the , but he also made important contributions to the develo ...

Albert Einstein
proved the reality of these molecules and their motions by producing the first
statistical physics Statistical physics is a branch of physics Physics (from grc, φυσική (ἐπιστήμη), physikḗ (epistḗmē), knowledge of nature, from ''phýsis'' 'nature'), , is the natural science that studies matter, its Motion (physics), ...
analysis of
Brownian motion File:Brownian motion large.gif, This is a simulation of the Brownian motion of a big particle (dust particle) that collides with a large set of smaller particles (molecules of a gas) which move with different velocities in different random dire ...

Brownian motion
. French physicist
Jean Perrin Jean Baptiste Perrin (30 September 1870 – 17 April 1942) was a French physicist who, in his studies of the Brownian motion of minute particles suspended in liquids, verified Albert Einstein’s explanation of this phenomenon and thereby confirme ...
used Einstein's work to experimentally determine the mass and dimensions of molecules, thereby providing physical evidence for the particle nature of matter.


Discovery of the electron

In 1897, J. J. Thomson discovered that
cathode ray Cathode rays (electron beam or e-beam) are streams of electron The electron is a subatomic particle In physical sciences, subatomic particles are smaller than atom An atom is the smallest unit of ordinary matter In classical ...
s are not electromagnetic waves but made of particles that are 1,800 times lighter than
hydrogen Hydrogen is the chemical element Image:Simple Periodic Table Chart-blocks.svg, 400px, Periodic table, The periodic table of the chemical elements In chemistry, an element is a pure substance consisting only of atoms that all have the same ...

hydrogen
(the lightest atom). Thomson concluded that these particles came from the atoms within the cathode — they were ''subatomic'' particles. He called these new particles ''corpuscles'' but they were later renamed ''
electron The electron is a subatomic particle In physical sciences, subatomic particles are smaller than atom An atom is the smallest unit of ordinary matter In classical physics and general chemistry, matter is any substance that has ma ...

electron
s''. Thomson also showed that electrons were identical to particles given off by
photoelectric The photoelectric effect is the emission of electron The electron is a subatomic particle, symbol or , whose electric charge Electric charge is the physical property of matter that causes it to experience a force when placed in an electrom ...

photoelectric
and radioactive materials. It was quickly recognized that electrons are the particles that carry
electric current An electric current is a stream of charged particle In physics Physics (from grc, φυσική (ἐπιστήμη), physikḗ (epistḗmē), knowledge of nature, from ''phýsis'' 'nature'), , is the natural science that studies matter, ...
s in metal wires. Thomson concluded that these electrons emerged from the very atoms of the cathode in his instruments, which meant that atoms are not indivisible as the name ''atomos'' suggests.


Discovery of the nucleus

J. J. Thomson thought that the negatively-charged electrons were distributed throughout the atom in a sea of positive charge that was distributed across the whole volume of the atom. This model is sometimes known as the
plum pudding model The plum pudding model is one of several historical scientific models Scientific modelling is a scientific activity, the aim of which is to make a particular part or feature of the world easier to Understanding, understand, Definition, define ...

plum pudding model
.
Ernest Rutherford Ernest Rutherford, 1st Baron Rutherford of Nelson, (30 August 1871 – 19 October 1937) was a New Zealand-born British physicist A physicist is a scientist A scientist is a person who conducts Scientific method, scientific resea ...
and his colleagues
Hans Geiger Johannes Wilhelm "Hans" Geiger (; ; 30 September 1882 – 24 September 1945) was a German physicist. He is best known as the co-inventor of the detector component of the Geiger counter and for the Geiger–Marsden experiment which discovered ...

Hans Geiger
and
Ernest Marsden Sir Ernest Marsden (19 February 1889 – 15 December 1970) was an English-New Zealand New Zealand ( mi, Aotearoa ) is an island country in the southwestern Pacific Ocean. It consists of two main landmasses—the North Island () and the ...
came to have doubts about the Thomson model after they encountered difficulties when they tried to build an instrument to measure the charge-to-mass ratio of
alpha particles Alpha particles, also called alpha rays or alpha radiation, consist of two protons and two neutrons bound together into a particle identical to a helium-4 atomic nucleus, nucleus. They are generally produced in the process of alpha decay, but may ...
(these are positively-charged particles emitted by certain radioactive substances such as
radium Radium is a chemical element In chemistry, an element is a pure Chemical substance, substance consisting only of atoms that all have the same numbers of protons in their atomic nucleus, nuclei. Unlike chemical compounds, chemical elem ...

radium
). The alpha particles were being scattered by the air in the detection chamber, which made the measurements unreliable. Thomson had encountered a similar problem in his work on cathode rays, which he solved by creating a near-perfect vacuum in his instruments. Rutherford didn't think he'd run into this same problem because alpha particles are much heavier than electrons. According to Thomson's model of the atom, the positive charge in the atom is not concentrated enough to produce an electric field strong enough to deflect an alpha particle, and the electrons are so lightweight they should be pushed aside effortlessly by the much heavier alpha particles. Yet there was scattering, so Rutherford and his colleagues decided to investigate this scattering carefully. Heilbron (2003). ''Ernest Rutheford and the Explosion of Atoms'', pp. 64-68 Between 1908 and 1913, Rutheford and his colleagues performed a series of experiments in which they bombarded thin foils of metal with alpha particles. They spotted alpha particles being deflected by angles greater than 90°. To explain this, Rutherford proposed that the positive charge of the atom is not distributed throughout the atom's volume as Thomson believed, but is concentrated in a tiny nucleus at the center. Only such an intense concentration of charge could produce an electric field strong enough to deflect the alpha particles as observed.


Discovery of isotopes

While experimenting with the products of
radioactive decay Radioactive decay (also known as nuclear decay, radioactivity, radioactive disintegration or nuclear disintegration) is the process by which an unstable atomic nucleus loses energy by radiation. A material containing unstable nuclei is conside ...

radioactive decay
, in 1913 radiochemist
Frederick Soddy Frederick Soddy FRS FRS may also refer to: Government and politics * Facility Registry System, a centrally managed Environmental Protection Agency database that identifies places of environmental interest in the United States * Family Resource ...

Frederick Soddy
discovered that there appeared to be more than one type of atom at each position on the
periodic table The periodic table, also known as the periodic table of (the) chemical elements, is a tabular display of the chemical element upright=1.0, 500px, The chemical elements ordered by link=Periodic table In chemistry Chemistry is ...

periodic table
. The term
isotope Isotopes are two or more types of atoms that have the same atomic number (number of protons A proton is a subatomic particle, symbol or , with a positive electric charge Electric charge is the physical property of matter that causes it ...
was coined by Margaret Todd as a suitable name for different atoms that belong to the same element. J. J. Thomson created a technique for
isotope separation Isotope separation is the process of concentrating specific isotope Isotopes are variants of a particular chemical element which differ in neutron number, and consequently in nucleon number. All isotopes of a given element have the same number ...
through his work on ionized gases, which subsequently led to the discovery of
stable isotope The term stable isotope has a meaning similar to stable nuclide Stable nuclides are nuclide A nuclide (or nucleide, from nucleus, also known as nuclear species) is a class of atoms characterized by their number of proton A proton is a subat ...
s.


Bohr model

In 1913 the physicist
Niels Bohr Niels Henrik David Bohr (; 7 October 1885 – 18 November 1962) was a Danish Danish may refer to: * Something of, from, or related to the country of Denmark * A national or citizen of Denmark, also called a "Dane", see Demographics of De ...

Niels Bohr
proposed a model in which the electrons of an atom were assumed to orbit the nucleus but could only do so in a finite set of orbits, and could jump between these orbits only in discrete changes of energy corresponding to absorption or radiation of a photon. This quantization was used to explain why the electrons' orbits are stable (given that normally, charges in acceleration, including circular motion, lose kinetic energy which is emitted as electromagnetic radiation, see ''
synchrotron radiation Synchrotron radiation (also known as magnetobremsstrahlung radiation) is the electromagnetic radiation In physics Physics is the natural science that studies matter, its Elementary particle, fundamental constituents, its Motion (physic ...
'') and why elements absorb and emit electromagnetic radiation in discrete spectra. Later in the same year
Henry Moseley Henry Gwyn Jeffreys Moseley (; 23 November 1887 – 10 August 1915) was an English physicist A physicist is a scientist A scientist is a person who conducts Scientific method, scientific research to advance knowledge in an Branches of sc ...
provided additional experimental evidence in favor of . These results refined
Ernest Rutherford Ernest Rutherford, 1st Baron Rutherford of Nelson, (30 August 1871 – 19 October 1937) was a New Zealand-born British physicist A physicist is a scientist A scientist is a person who conducts Scientific method, scientific resea ...
's and
Antonius van den Broek Antonius Johannes van den Broek (4 May 1870, Zoetermeer Zoetermeer () is a city in the Western Netherlands The Netherlands ( nl, Nederland ), informally referred to as Holland, is a country primarily located in Western Europe and partly in the ...
's model, which proposed that the atom contains in its
nucleus ''Nucleus'' (plural nuclei) is a Latin word for the seed inside a fruit. It most often refers to: *Atomic nucleus, the very dense central region of an atom *Cell nucleus, a central organelle of a eukaryotic cell, containing most of the cell's DNA ...
a number of positive
nuclear charge The effective nuclear charge (often symbolized as Z_ or Z^\ast) is the net positive charge experienced by an electron The electron is a subatomic particle, symbol or , whose electric charge Electric charge is the physical property of mat ...
s that is equal to its (atomic) number in the periodic table. Until these experiments,
atomic number 300px, The Rutherford–Bohr model of the hydrogen atom () or a hydrogen-like ion (). In this model it is an essential feature that the photon energy (or frequency) of the electromagnetic radiation emitted (shown) when an electron jumps from one ...
was not known to be a physical and experimental quantity. That it is equal to the atomic nuclear charge remains the accepted atomic model today.
Chemical bond A chemical bond is a lasting attraction between atom An atom is the smallest unit of ordinary matter In classical physics and general chemistry, matter is any substance that has mass and takes up space by having volume. All everyday ...
s between atoms were explained by
Gilbert Newton Lewis Gilbert Newton Lewis (October 23, 1875 – March 23, 1946) or (October 25, 1875 – March 23, 1946) was an American physical chemist and a Dean of the College of Chemistry at University of California, Berkeley The University of California ...
in 1916, as the interactions between their constituent electrons. As the
chemical properties A chemical property is any of a material's properties that becomes evident during, or after, a chemical reaction A chemical reaction is a process that leads to the chemical transformation of one set of chemical substance A chemical substan ...
of the elements were known to largely repeat themselves according to the
periodic law Image:Periodic trends.svg, The periodic trends in properties of elements Periodic trends are specific patterns in the properties of chemical elements that are revealed in the periodic table of elements. Major periodic trends include electronegativ ...
, in 1919 the American chemist
Irving Langmuir Irving Langmuir (; 31 January 1881 – 16 August 1957) was an American chemist, physicist, and engineer. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1932 for his work in surface chemistry. Langmuir's most famous publication is the 1919 a ...

Irving Langmuir
suggested that this could be explained if the electrons in an atom were connected or clustered in some manner. Groups of electrons were thought to occupy a set of
electron shell In chemistry Chemistry is the scientific discipline involved with Chemical element, elements and chemical compound, compounds composed of atoms, molecules and ions: their composition, structure, properties, behavior and the changes they un ...
s about the nucleus. The Bohr model of the atom was the first complete physical model of the atom. It described the overall structure of the atom, how atoms bond to each other, and predicted the spectral lines of hydrogen. Bohr's model was not perfect and was soon superseded by the more accurate Schrödinger model, but it was sufficient to evaporate any remaining doubts that matter is composed of atoms. For chemists, the idea of the atom had been a useful heuristic tool, but physicists had doubts as to whether matter really is made up of atoms as nobody had yet developed a complete physical model of the atom.


The Schrödinger model

The
Stern–Gerlach experiment The Stern–Gerlach experiment demonstrated that the spatial orientation of angular momentum In physics, angular momentum (rarely, moment of momentum or rotational momentum) is the rotational equivalent of linear momentum. It is an important ...
of 1922 provided further evidence of the quantum nature of atomic properties. When a beam of silver atoms was passed through a specially shaped magnetic field, the beam was split in a way correlated with the direction of an atom's angular momentum, or
spin Spin or spinning may refer to: Businesses * or South Pacific Island Network * , an American scooter-sharing system * , a chain of table tennis lounges Computing * , 's tool for formal verification of distributed software systems * , a Mach-like ...
. As this spin direction is initially random, the beam would be expected to deflect in a random direction. Instead, the beam was split into two directional components, corresponding to the atomic
spin Spin or spinning may refer to: Businesses * or South Pacific Island Network * , an American scooter-sharing system * , a chain of table tennis lounges Computing * , 's tool for formal verification of distributed software systems * , a Mach-like ...
being oriented up or down with respect to the magnetic field. In 1925
Werner Heisenberg Werner Karl Heisenberg (; ; 5 December 1901 – 1 February 1976) was a German theoretical physicist and one of the key pioneers of quantum mechanics Quantum mechanics is a fundamental Scientific theory, theory in physics that provides a de ...
published the first consistent mathematical formulation of quantum mechanics (
matrix mechanics#REDIRECT Matrix mechanics Matrix mechanics is a formulation of quantum mechanics created by Werner Heisenberg, Max Born Max Born (; 11 December 1882 – 5 January 1970) was a German physicist A physicist is a scientist A scientist ...
). One year earlier,
Louis de Broglie Louis Victor Pierre Raymond, 7th Duc de Broglie (, also , or ; 15 August 1892 – 19 March 1987) was a French physicist and aristocrat who made groundbreaking contributions to quantum theory. In his 1924 PhD thesis, he postulated the wave nat ...

Louis de Broglie
had proposed the de Broglie hypothesis: that all particles behave like waves to some extent, and in 1926
Erwin Schrödinger Erwin Rudolf Josef Alexander Schrödinger (, ; ; 12 August 1887 – 4 January 1961), sometimes written as or , was a Nobel Prize-winning Austrian-Irish who developed a number of fundamental results in : the provides a way to calculate the ...
used this idea to develop the
Schrödinger equation The Schrödinger equation is a linear Linearity is the property of a mathematical relationship (''function Function or functionality may refer to: Computing * Function key A function key is a key on a computer A computer is a ma ...
, a mathematical model of the atom (wave mechanics) that described the electrons as three-dimensional
waveform In electronics The field of electronics is a branch of physics and electrical engineering that deals with the emission, behaviour and effects of electrons The electron is a subatomic particle In physical sciences, subatomic part ...
s rather than point particles. A consequence of using waveforms to describe particles is that it is mathematically impossible to obtain precise values for both the position and
momentum In Newtonian mechanics, linear momentum, translational momentum, or simply momentum is the product of the mass Mass is the quantity Quantity is a property that can exist as a multitude or magnitude, which illustrate discontinui ...

momentum
of a particle at a given point in time; this became known as the
uncertainty principle In quantum mechanics Quantum mechanics is a fundamental Scientific theory, theory in physics that provides a description of the physical properties of nature at the scale of atoms and subatomic particles. It is the foundation of all quant ...

uncertainty principle
, formulated by
Werner Heisenberg Werner Karl Heisenberg (; ; 5 December 1901 – 1 February 1976) was a German theoretical physicist and one of the key pioneers of quantum mechanics Quantum mechanics is a fundamental Scientific theory, theory in physics that provides a de ...
in 1927. In this concept, for a given accuracy in measuring a position one could only obtain a range of probable values for momentum, and vice versa. This model was able to explain observations of atomic behavior that previous models could not, such as certain structural and spectral patterns of atoms larger than hydrogen. Thus, the planetary model of the atom was discarded in favor of one that described
atomic orbital In atomic theory Atomic theory is the scientific theory A scientific theory is an explanation of an aspect of the natural world and universe that has been repeatedly tested and verified in accordance with the scientific method The ...
zones around the nucleus where a given electron is most likely to be observed.


Discovery of the neutron

The development of the
mass spectrometer Mass spectrometry (MS) is an analytical technique that is used to measure the mass-to-charge ratio of ions. The results are presented as a ''mass spectrum'', a plot of intensity as a function of the mass-to-charge ratio. Mass spectrometry is used i ...
allowed the mass of atoms to be measured with increased accuracy. The device uses a magnet to bend the trajectory of a beam of ions, and the amount of deflection is determined by the ratio of an atom's mass to its charge. The chemist
Francis William Aston Francis William Aston FRS FRS may also refer to: Government and politics * Facility Registry System, a centrally managed Environmental Protection Agency database that identifies places of environmental interest in the United States * Family Re ...

Francis William Aston
used this instrument to show that isotopes had different masses. The atomic mass of these isotopes varied by integer amounts, called the
whole number rule In chemistry, the whole number rule states that the masses of the isotopes are Natural number, whole number multiples of the mass of the hydrogen atom. The rule is a modified version of Prout's hypothesis proposed in 1815, to the effect that atomic ...
. The explanation for these different isotopes awaited the discovery of the
neutron The neutron is a subatomic particle, symbol or , which has a neutral (not positive or negative) charge, and a mass slightly greater than that of a proton. Protons and neutrons constitute the nuclei of atoms. Since protons and neutrons behav ...

neutron
, an uncharged particle with a mass similar to the
proton A proton is a subatomic particle, symbol or , with a positive electric charge of +1''e'' elementary charge and a mass slightly less than that of a neutron. Protons and neutrons, each with masses of approximately one atomic mass unit, are collecti ...

proton
, by the physicist
James Chadwick Sir James Chadwick, (20 October 1891 – 24 July 1974) was a British physicist A physicist is a scientist A scientist is a person who conducts scientific research The scientific method is an Empirical evidence, empirical m ...

James Chadwick
in 1932. Isotopes were then explained as elements with the same number of protons, but different numbers of neutrons within the nucleus.


Fission, high-energy physics and condensed matter

In 1938, the German chemist
Otto Hahn Otto Hahn (; 8 March 1879 – 28 July 1968) was a German chemist A chemist (from Greek ''chēm(ía)'' alchemy; replacing ''chymist'' from Medieval Latin Medieval Latin was the form of Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language ...

Otto Hahn
, a student of Rutherford, directed neutrons onto uranium atoms expecting to get
transuranium element The transuranium elements (also known as transuranic elements) are the chemical elements with atomic numbers greater than 92, which is the atomic number of uranium. All of these elements are unstable and Radioactive decay, decay radioactively into ...
s. Instead, his chemical experiments showed
barium Barium is a chemical element with the Symbol (chemistry), symbol Ba and atomic number 56. It is the fifth element in group 2 and is a soft, silvery alkaline earth metal. Because of its high chemical Reactivity (chemistry), reactivity, ba ...

barium
as a product. A year later,
Lise Meitner Lise Meitner ( , ; 7 November 1878 – 27 October 1968) was an Austrian-Swedish physics, physicist who contributed to the discoveries of the element protactinium and nuclear fission. While working at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute on radioactivit ...

Lise Meitner
and her nephew
Otto Frisch Otto Robert Frisch FRS FRS may also refer to: Government and politics * Facility Registry System, a centrally managed Environmental Protection Agency database that identifies places of environmental interest in the United States * Family Resou ...
verified that Hahn's result were the first experimental ''nuclear fission''. In 1944, Hahn received the
Nobel Prize in Chemistry ) , image = Nobel Prize.png , alt = A golden medallion with an embossed image of a bearded man facing left in profile. To the left of the man is the text "ALFR•" then "NOBEL", and on the right, the text (smaller) "NAT•" then "MD ...
. Despite Hahn's efforts, the contributions of Meitner and Frisch were not recognized. In the 1950s, the development of improved
particle accelerator A particle accelerator is a machine that uses electromagnetic fields to propel electric charge, charged particles to very high speeds and energies, and to contain them in well-defined particle beam, beams. Large accelerators are used for funda ...
s and
particle detector In experimental and applied particle physics Particle physics (also known as high energy physics) is a branch of physics Physics (from grc, φυσική (ἐπιστήμη), physikḗ (epistḗmē), knowledge of nature, from ''phýs ...

particle detector
s allowed scientists to study the impacts of atoms moving at high energies. Neutrons and protons were found to be
hadron In particle physics Particle physics (also known as high energy physics) is a branch of physics Physics (from grc, φυσική (ἐπιστήμη), physikḗ (epistḗmē), knowledge of nature, from ''phýsis'' 'nature'), , is the ...
s, or composites of smaller particles called
quark A quark () is a type of elementary particle In particle physics, an elementary particle or fundamental particle is a subatomic particle that is not composed of other particles. Particles currently thought to be elementary include the fundam ...

quark
s. The
standard model of particle physics The Standard Model of particle physics Particle physics (also known as high energy physics) is a branch of physics Physics (from grc, φυσική (ἐπιστήμη), physikḗ (epistḗmē), knowledge of nature, from ''phýsis ...
was developed that so far has successfully explained the properties of the nucleus in terms of these sub-atomic particles and the forces that govern their interactions.


Structure


Subatomic particles

Though the word ''atom'' originally denoted a particle that cannot be cut into smaller particles, in modern scientific usage the atom is composed of various
subatomic particle In physical sciences, subatomic particles are smaller than atom An atom is the smallest unit of ordinary matter In classical physics and general chemistry, matter is any substance that has mass and takes up space by having volume. All ...
s. The constituent particles of an atom are the
electron The electron is a subatomic particle In physical sciences, subatomic particles are smaller than atom An atom is the smallest unit of ordinary matter In classical physics and general chemistry, matter is any substance that has ma ...

electron
, the
proton A proton is a subatomic particle, symbol or , with a positive electric charge of +1''e'' elementary charge and a mass slightly less than that of a neutron. Protons and neutrons, each with masses of approximately one atomic mass unit, are collecti ...

proton
and the
neutron The neutron is a subatomic particle, symbol or , which has a neutral (not positive or negative) charge, and a mass slightly greater than that of a proton. Protons and neutrons constitute the nuclei of atoms. Since protons and neutrons behav ...

neutron
. The electron is by far the least massive of these particles at , with a negative
electrical charge Electricity is the set of physical Physical may refer to: *Physical examination, a regular overall check-up with a doctor *Physical (album), ''Physical'' (album), a 1981 album by Olivia Newton-John **Physical (Olivia Newton-John song), "Physi ...
and a size that is too small to be measured using available techniques. It was the lightest particle with a positive rest mass measured, until the discovery of
neutrino A neutrino ( or ) (denoted by the Greek letter ) is a fermion (an elementary particle In particle physics Particle physics (also known as high energy physics) is a branch of physics Physics (from grc, φυσική (ἐπιστ ...

neutrino
mass. Under ordinary conditions, electrons are bound to the positively charged nucleus by the attraction created from opposite electric charges. If an atom has more or fewer electrons than its atomic number, then it becomes respectively negatively or positively charged as a whole; a charged atom is called an
ion An ion () is an atom An atom is the smallest unit of ordinary matter In classical physics and general chemistry, matter is any substance that has mass and takes up space by having volume. All everyday objects that can be touched are ...
. Electrons have been known since the late 19th century, mostly thanks to J.J. Thomson; see history of subatomic physics for details. Protons have a positive charge and a mass 1,836 times that of the electron, at . The number of protons in an atom is called its
atomic number 300px, The Rutherford–Bohr model of the hydrogen atom () or a hydrogen-like ion (). In this model it is an essential feature that the photon energy (or frequency) of the electromagnetic radiation emitted (shown) when an electron jumps from one ...
.
Ernest Rutherford Ernest Rutherford, 1st Baron Rutherford of Nelson, (30 August 1871 – 19 October 1937) was a New Zealand-born British physicist A physicist is a scientist A scientist is a person who conducts Scientific method, scientific resea ...
(1919) observed that nitrogen under alpha-particle bombardment ejects what appeared to be hydrogen nuclei. By 1920 he had accepted that the hydrogen nucleus is a distinct particle within the atom and named it
proton A proton is a subatomic particle, symbol or , with a positive electric charge of +1''e'' elementary charge and a mass slightly less than that of a neutron. Protons and neutrons, each with masses of approximately one atomic mass unit, are collecti ...

proton
. Neutrons have no electrical charge and have a free mass of 1,839 times the mass of the electron, or .Mohr, P.J.; Taylor, B.N. and Newell, D.B. (2014)
"The 2014 CODATA Recommended Values of the Fundamental Physical Constants"
(Web Version 7.0). The database was developed by J. Baker, M. Douma, and S. Kotochigova. (2014). National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, Maryland 20899.
Neutrons are the heaviest of the three constituent particles, but their mass can be reduced by the nuclear binding energy. Neutrons and protons (collectively known as nucleons) have comparable dimensions—on the order of —although the 'surface' of these particles is not sharply defined. The neutron was discovered in 1932 by the English physicist
James Chadwick Sir James Chadwick, (20 October 1891 – 24 July 1974) was a British physicist A physicist is a scientist A scientist is a person who conducts scientific research The scientific method is an Empirical evidence, empirical m ...

James Chadwick
. In the Standard Model of physics, electrons are truly elementary particles with no internal structure, whereas protons and neutrons are composite particles composed of elementary particles called
quark A quark () is a type of elementary particle In particle physics, an elementary particle or fundamental particle is a subatomic particle that is not composed of other particles. Particles currently thought to be elementary include the fundam ...

quark
s. There are two types of quarks in atoms, each having a fractional electric charge. Protons are composed of two up quarks (each with charge +) and one down quark (with a charge of −). Neutrons consist of one up quark and two down quarks. This distinction accounts for the difference in mass and charge between the two particles. The quarks are held together by the strong interaction (or strong force), which is mediated by gluons. The protons and neutrons, in turn, are held to each other in the nucleus by the
nuclear force The nuclear force (or nucleon–nucleon interaction, residual strong force, or, historically, strong nuclear force) is a force that acts between the protons and neutrons of atoms. Neutrons and protons, both nucleons, are affected by the nuclea ...

nuclear force
, which is a residuum of the strong force that has somewhat different range-properties (see the article on the nuclear force for more). The gluon is a member of the family of gauge bosons, which are elementary particles that mediate physical forces.


Nucleus

All the bound protons and neutrons in an atom make up a tiny atomic nucleus, and are collectively called nucleons. The radius of a nucleus is approximately equal to 1.07 \sqrt[3] femtometres, where A is the total number of nucleons. This is much smaller than the radius of the atom, which is on the order of 105 fm. The nucleons are bound together by a short-ranged attractive potential called the residual strong force. At distances smaller than 2.5 fm this force is much more powerful than the electrostatic force that causes positively charged protons to repel each other. Atoms of the same chemical element, element have the same number of protons, called the
atomic number 300px, The Rutherford–Bohr model of the hydrogen atom () or a hydrogen-like ion (). In this model it is an essential feature that the photon energy (or frequency) of the electromagnetic radiation emitted (shown) when an electron jumps from one ...
. Within a single element, the number of neutrons may vary, determining the
isotope Isotopes are two or more types of atoms that have the same atomic number (number of protons A proton is a subatomic particle, symbol or , with a positive electric charge Electric charge is the physical property of matter that causes it ...
of that element. The total number of protons and neutrons determine the nuclide. The number of neutrons relative to the protons determines the stability of the nucleus, with certain isotopes undergoing
radioactive decay Radioactive decay (also known as nuclear decay, radioactivity, radioactive disintegration or nuclear disintegration) is the process by which an unstable atomic nucleus loses energy by radiation. A material containing unstable nuclei is conside ...

radioactive decay
. The proton, the electron, and the neutron are classified as fermions. Fermions obey the Pauli exclusion principle which prohibits ''identical particles, identical'' fermions, such as multiple protons, from occupying the same quantum state at the same time. Thus, every proton in the nucleus must occupy a quantum state different from all other protons, and the same applies to all neutrons of the nucleus and to all electrons of the electron cloud. A nucleus that has a different number of protons than neutrons can potentially drop to a lower energy state through a radioactive decay that causes the number of protons and neutrons to more closely match. As a result, atoms with matching numbers of protons and neutrons are more stable against decay, but with increasing atomic number, the mutual repulsion of the protons requires an increasing proportion of neutrons to maintain the stability of the nucleus. The number of protons and neutrons in the atomic nucleus can be modified, although this can require very high energies because of the strong force. Nuclear fusion occurs when multiple atomic particles join to form a heavier nucleus, such as through the energetic collision of two nuclei. For example, at the core of the Sun protons require energies of 3 to 10 keV to overcome their mutual repulsion—the coulomb barrier—and fuse together into a single nucleus. Nuclear fission is the opposite process, causing a nucleus to split into two smaller nuclei—usually through radioactive decay. The nucleus can also be modified through bombardment by high energy subatomic particles or photons. If this modifies the number of protons in a nucleus, the atom changes to a different chemical element. If the mass of the nucleus following a fusion reaction is less than the sum of the masses of the separate particles, then the difference between these two values can be emitted as a type of usable energy (such as a gamma ray, or the kinetic energy of a beta particle), as described by
Albert Einstein Albert Einstein ( ; ; 14 March 1879 – 18 April 1955) was a German-born , widely acknowledged to be one of the greatest physicists of all time. Einstein is known for developing the , but he also made important contributions to the develo ...

Albert Einstein
's mass-energy equivalence formula, E=mc^2, where m is the mass loss and c is the speed of light. This deficit is part of the binding energy of the new nucleus, and it is the non-recoverable loss of the energy that causes the fused particles to remain together in a state that requires this energy to separate. The fusion of two nuclei that create larger nuclei with lower atomic numbers than iron and nickel—a total nucleon number of about 60—is usually an exothermic reaction, exothermic process that releases more energy than is required to bring them together. It is this energy-releasing process that makes nuclear fusion in stars a self-sustaining reaction. For heavier nuclei, the binding energy per nucleon in the nucleus begins to decrease. That means fusion processes producing nuclei that have atomic numbers higher than about 26, and atomic masses higher than about 60, is an endothermic reaction, endothermic process. These more massive nuclei can not undergo an energy-producing fusion reaction that can sustain the hydrostatic equilibrium of a star.


Electron cloud

The electrons in an atom are attracted to the protons in the nucleus by the
electromagnetic force Electromagnetism is a branch of physics Physics is the natural science that studies matter, its Elementary particle, fundamental constituents, its Motion (physics), motion and behavior through Spacetime, space and time, and the related ...
. This force binds the electrons inside an electrostatic potential well surrounding the smaller nucleus, which means that an external source of energy is needed for the electron to escape. The closer an electron is to the nucleus, the greater the attractive force. Hence electrons bound near the center of the potential well require more energy to escape than those at greater separations. Electrons, like other particles, have properties of both a Wave-particle duality, particle and a wave. The electron cloud is a region inside the potential well where each electron forms a type of three-dimensional standing wave—a wave form that does not move relative to the nucleus. This behavior is defined by an
atomic orbital In atomic theory Atomic theory is the scientific theory A scientific theory is an explanation of an aspect of the natural world and universe that has been repeatedly tested and verified in accordance with the scientific method The ...
, a mathematical function that characterises the probability that an electron appears to be at a particular location when its position is measured. Only a discrete (or wikt:quantize, quantized) set of these orbitals exist around the nucleus, as other possible wave patterns rapidly decay into a more stable form. Orbitals can have one or more ring or node structures, and differ from each other in size, shape and orientation. Each atomic orbital corresponds to a particular energy level of the electron. The electron can change its state to a higher energy level by absorbing a photon with sufficient energy to boost it into the new quantum state. Likewise, through spontaneous emission, an electron in a higher energy state can drop to a lower energy state while radiating the excess energy as a photon. These characteristic energy values, defined by the differences in the energies of the quantum states, are responsible for atomic spectral lines. The amount of energy needed to remove or add an electron—the electron binding energy—is far less than the binding energy, binding energy of nucleons. For example, it requires only 13.6 eV to strip a Stationary state, ground-state electron from a hydrogen atom, compared to 2.23 ''million'' eV for splitting a deuterium nucleus. Atoms are electric charge, electrically neutral if they have an equal number of protons and electrons. Atoms that have either a deficit or a surplus of electrons are called
ion An ion () is an atom An atom is the smallest unit of ordinary matter In classical physics and general chemistry, matter is any substance that has mass and takes up space by having volume. All everyday objects that can be touched are ...
s. Electrons that are farthest from the nucleus may be transferred to other nearby atoms or shared between atoms. By this mechanism, atoms are able to chemical bond, bond into
molecule A scanning tunneling microscopy image of pentacene molecules, which consist of linear chains of five carbon rings. A molecule is an electrically Electricity is the set of physical phenomena associated with the presence and motion I ...

molecule
s and other types of
chemical compound A chemical compound is a chemical substance A chemical substance is a form of matter In classical physics and general chemistry, matter is any substance that has mass and takes up space by having volume. All everyday objects that can be ...
s like Ionic crystal, ionic and Covalent bond, covalent network Crystallization, crystals.


Properties


Nuclear properties

By definition, any two atoms with an identical number of ''protons'' in their nuclei belong to the same
chemical element upright=1.0, 500px, The chemical elements ordered by link=Periodic table In chemistry Chemistry is the science, scientific study of the properties and behavior of matter. It is a natural science that covers the Chemical element, eleme ...
. Atoms with equal numbers of protons but a different number of ''neutrons'' are different isotopes of the same element. For example, all hydrogen atoms admit exactly one proton, but isotopes exist with no neutrons (hydrogen-1, by far the most common form, also called protium), one neutron (deuterium), two neutrons (tritium) and isotopes of hydrogen, more than two neutrons. The known elements form a set of atomic numbers, from the single-proton element
hydrogen Hydrogen is the chemical element Image:Simple Periodic Table Chart-blocks.svg, 400px, Periodic table, The periodic table of the chemical elements In chemistry, an element is a pure substance consisting only of atoms that all have the same ...

hydrogen
up to the 118-proton element oganesson. All known isotopes of elements with atomic numbers greater than 82 are radioactive, although the radioactivity of element 83 (bismuth) is so slight as to be practically negligible. About 339 nuclides occur naturally on Earth, of which 252 (about 74%) have not been observed to decay, and are referred to as "
stable isotope The term stable isotope has a meaning similar to stable nuclide Stable nuclides are nuclide A nuclide (or nucleide, from nucleus, also known as nuclear species) is a class of atoms characterized by their number of proton A proton is a subat ...
s". Only 90 nuclides are stable list of nuclides, theoretically, while another 162 (bringing the total to 252) have not been observed to decay, even though in theory it is energetically possible. These are also formally classified as "stable". An additional 34 radioactive nuclides have half-lives longer than 100 million years, and are long-lived enough to have been present since the birth of the solar system. This collection of 286 nuclides are known as primordial nuclides. Finally, an additional 53 short-lived nuclides are known to occur naturally, as daughter products of primordial nuclide decay (such as
radium Radium is a chemical element In chemistry, an element is a pure Chemical substance, substance consisting only of atoms that all have the same numbers of protons in their atomic nucleus, nuclei. Unlike chemical compounds, chemical elem ...

radium
from uranium), or as products of natural energetic processes on Earth, such as cosmic ray bombardment (for example, carbon-14).For more recent updates see Brookhaven National Laboratory'
Interactive Chart of Nuclides
] .
For 80 of the chemical elements, at least one
stable isotope The term stable isotope has a meaning similar to stable nuclide Stable nuclides are nuclide A nuclide (or nucleide, from nucleus, also known as nuclear species) is a class of atoms characterized by their number of proton A proton is a subat ...
exists. As a rule, there is only a handful of stable isotopes for each of these elements, the average being 3.2 stable isotopes per element. Twenty-six elements have only a single stable isotope, while the largest number of stable isotopes observed for any element is ten, for the element tin. Elements technetium, 43, promethium, 61, and all elements numbered bismuth, 83 or higher have no stable isotopes.CRC Handbook (2002). Stability of isotopes is affected by the ratio of protons to neutrons, and also by the presence of certain "magic numbers" of neutrons or protons that represent closed and filled quantum shells. These quantum shells correspond to a set of energy levels within the Nuclear shell model, shell model of the nucleus; filled shells, such as the filled shell of 50 protons for tin, confers unusual stability on the nuclide. Of the 252 known stable nuclides, only four have both an odd number of protons ''and'' odd number of neutrons: hydrogen-2 (deuterium), lithium-6, boron-10 and nitrogen-14. Also, only four naturally occurring, radioactive odd-odd nuclides have a half-life over a billion years: potassium-40, vanadium-50, lanthanum-138 and tantalum-180m. Most odd-odd nuclei are highly unstable with respect to beta decay, because the decay products are even-even, and are therefore more strongly bound, due to Semi-empirical mass formula#Pairing term, nuclear pairing effects.


Mass

The large majority of an atom's mass comes from the protons and neutrons that make it up. The total number of these particles (called "nucleons") in a given atom is called the mass number. It is a positive integer and dimensionless (instead of having dimension of mass), because it expresses a count. An example of use of a mass number is "carbon-12," which has 12 nucleons (six protons and six neutrons). The actual Invariant mass, mass of an atom at rest is often expressed in dalton (unit), daltons (Da), also called the unified atomic mass unit (u). This unit is defined as a twelfth of the mass of a free neutral atom of carbon-12, which is approximately . hydrogen atom, Hydrogen-1 (the lightest isotope of hydrogen which is also the nuclide with the lowest mass) has an atomic weight of 1.007825 Da. The value of this number is called the atomic mass. A given atom has an atomic mass approximately equal (within 1%) to its mass number times the atomic mass unit (for example the mass of a nitrogen-14 is roughly 14 Da), but this number will not be exactly an integer except (by definition) in the case of carbon-12. The heaviest stable atom is lead-208, with a mass of . As even the most massive atoms are far too light to work with directly, chemists instead use the unit of Mole (unit), moles. One mole of atoms of any element always has the same number of atoms (about Avogadro constant, ). This number was chosen so that if an element has an atomic mass of 1 u, a mole of atoms of that element has a mass close to one gram. Because of the definition of the Atomic mass unit, unified atomic mass unit, each carbon-12 atom has an atomic mass of exactly 12 Da, and so a mole of carbon-12 atoms weighs exactly 0.012 kg.


Shape and size

Atoms lack a well-defined outer boundary, so their dimensions are usually described in terms of an atomic radius. This is a measure of the distance out to which the electron cloud extends from the nucleus. This assumes the atom to exhibit a spherical shape, which is only obeyed for atoms in vacuum or free space. Atomic radii may be derived from the distances between two nuclei when the two atoms are joined in a
chemical bond A chemical bond is a lasting attraction between atom An atom is the smallest unit of ordinary matter In classical physics and general chemistry, matter is any substance that has mass and takes up space by having volume. All everyday ...
. The radius varies with the location of an atom on the atomic chart, the type of chemical bond, the number of neighboring atoms (coordination number) and a quantum mechanics, quantum mechanical property known as Spin (physics), spin. On the
periodic table The periodic table, also known as the periodic table of (the) chemical elements, is a tabular display of the chemical element upright=1.0, 500px, The chemical elements ordered by link=Periodic table In chemistry Chemistry is ...

periodic table
of the elements, atom size tends to increase when moving down columns, but decrease when moving across rows (left to right). Consequently, the smallest atom is helium with a radius of 32 Picometre, pm, while one of the largest is caesium at 225 pm. When subjected to external forces, like electrical fields, the shape of an atom may deviate from spherical symmetry. The deformation depends on the field magnitude and the orbital type of outer shell electrons, as shown by group theory, group-theoretical considerations. Aspherical deviations might be elicited for instance in
crystal A crystal or crystalline solid is a solid material whose constituents (such as atoms, molecules, or ions) are arranged in a highly ordered microscopic structure, forming a crystal lattice that extends in all directions. In addition, macrosco ...

crystal
s, where large crystal-electrical fields may occur at crystal symmetry, low-symmetry lattice sites. Significant ellipsoidal deformations have been shown to occur for sulfur ions and chalcogen ions in pyrite-type compounds. Atomic dimensions are thousands of times smaller than the wavelengths of light (400–700 nanometre, nm) so they cannot be viewed using an optical microscope, although individual atoms can be observed using a scanning tunneling microscope. To visualize the minuteness of the atom, consider that a typical human hair is about 1 million carbon atoms in width. A single drop of water contains about 2 sextillion () atoms of oxygen, and twice the number of hydrogen atoms. A single Carat (unit), carat diamond with a mass of contains about 10 sextillion (1022) atoms of carbon.A carat is 200 milligrams. Atomic mass unit, By definition, carbon-12 has 0.012 kg per mole. The Avogadro constant defines atoms per mole. If an apple were magnified to the size of the Earth, then the atoms in the apple would be approximately the size of the original apple.


Radioactive decay

Every element has one or more isotopes that have unstable nuclei that are subject to radioactive decay, causing the nucleus to emit particles or electromagnetic radiation. Radioactivity can occur when the radius of a nucleus is large compared with the radius of the strong force, which only acts over distances on the order of 1 fm. The most common forms of radioactive decay are: * Alpha decay: this process is caused when the nucleus emits an alpha particle, which is a helium nucleus consisting of two protons and two neutrons. The result of the emission is a new element with a lower
atomic number 300px, The Rutherford–Bohr model of the hydrogen atom () or a hydrogen-like ion (). In this model it is an essential feature that the photon energy (or frequency) of the electromagnetic radiation emitted (shown) when an electron jumps from one ...
. * Beta decay (and electron capture): these processes are regulated by the weak force, and result from a transformation of a neutron into a proton, or a proton into a neutron. The neutron to proton transition is accompanied by the emission of an electron and an antineutrino, while proton to neutron transition (except in electron capture) causes the emission of a positron and a
neutrino A neutrino ( or ) (denoted by the Greek letter ) is a fermion (an elementary particle In particle physics Particle physics (also known as high energy physics) is a branch of physics Physics (from grc, φυσική (ἐπιστ ...

neutrino
. The electron or positron emissions are called beta particles. Beta decay either increases or decreases the atomic number of the nucleus by one. Electron capture is more common than positron emission, because it requires less energy. In this type of decay, an electron is absorbed by the nucleus, rather than a positron emitted from the nucleus. A neutrino is still emitted in this process, and a proton changes to a neutron. * Gamma decay: this process results from a change in the energy level of the nucleus to a lower state, resulting in the emission of electromagnetic radiation. The excited state of a nucleus which results in gamma emission usually occurs following the emission of an alpha or a beta particle. Thus, gamma decay usually follows alpha or beta decay. Other more rare types of
radioactive decay Radioactive decay (also known as nuclear decay, radioactivity, radioactive disintegration or nuclear disintegration) is the process by which an unstable atomic nucleus loses energy by radiation. A material containing unstable nuclei is conside ...

radioactive decay
include ejection of neutrons or protons or clusters of nucleons from a nucleus, or more than one beta particle. An analog of gamma emission which allows excited nuclei to lose energy in a different way, is internal conversion—a process that produces high-speed electrons that are not beta rays, followed by production of high-energy photons that are not gamma rays. A few large nuclei explode into two or more charged fragments of varying masses plus several neutrons, in a decay called spontaneous nuclear fission. Each radioactive isotope has a characteristic decay time period—the half-life—that is determined by the amount of time needed for half of a sample to decay. This is an exponential decay process that steadily decreases the proportion of the remaining isotope by 50% every half-life. Hence after two half-lives have passed only 25% of the isotope is present, and so forth.


Magnetic moment

Elementary particles possess an intrinsic quantum mechanical property known as Spin (physics), spin. This is analogous to the angular momentum of an object that is spinning around its center of mass, although strictly speaking these particles are believed to be point-like and cannot be said to be rotating. Spin is measured in units of the reduced Planck constant (ħ), with electrons, protons and neutrons all having spin ½ ħ, or "spin-½". In an atom, electrons in motion around the Atomic nucleus, nucleus possess orbital angular momentum in addition to their spin, while the nucleus itself possesses angular momentum due to its nuclear spin. The magnetic field produced by an atom—its magnetic moment—is determined by these various forms of angular momentum, just as a rotating charged object classically produces a magnetic field, but the most dominant contribution comes from electron spin. Due to the nature of electrons to obey the Pauli exclusion principle, in which no two electrons may be found in the same quantum state, bound electrons pair up with each other, with one member of each pair in a spin up state and the other in the opposite, spin down state. Thus these spins cancel each other out, reducing the total magnetic dipole moment to zero in some atoms with even number of electrons. In Ferromagnetism, ferromagnetic elements such as iron, cobalt and nickel, an odd number of electrons leads to an unpaired electron and a net overall magnetic moment. The orbitals of neighboring atoms overlap and a lower energy state is achieved when the spins of unpaired electrons are aligned with each other, a spontaneous process known as an exchange interaction. When the magnetic moments of ferromagnetic atoms are lined up, the material can produce a measurable macroscopic field. Paramagnetism, Paramagnetic materials have atoms with magnetic moments that line up in random directions when no magnetic field is present, but the magnetic moments of the individual atoms line up in the presence of a field. The nucleus of an atom will have no spin when it has even numbers of both neutrons and protons, but for other cases of odd numbers, the nucleus may have a spin. Normally nuclei with spin are aligned in random directions because of thermal equilibrium, but for certain elements (such as xenon, xenon-129) it is possible to spin polarization, polarize a significant proportion of the nuclear spin states so that they are aligned in the same direction—a condition called hyperpolarization (physics), hyperpolarization. This has important applications in magnetic resonance imaging.


Energy levels

The potential energy of an electron in an atom is negative number, negative relative to when the distance from the nucleus limit at infinity, goes to infinity; its dependence on the electron's position (vector), position reaches the minimum inside the nucleus, roughly in inverse proportion to the distance. In the quantum-mechanical model, a bound electron can occupy only a set of quantum state, states centered on the nucleus, and each state corresponds to a specific energy level; see time-independent Schrödinger equation for a theoretical explanation. An energy level can be measured by the ionization potential, amount of energy needed to unbind the electron from the atom, and is usually given in units of electronvolts (eV). The lowest energy state of a bound electron is called the ground state, i.e. stationary state, while an electron transition to a higher level results in an excited state. The electron's energy increases along with principal quantum number, ''n'' because the (average) distance to the nucleus increases. Dependence of the energy on azimuthal quantum number, is caused not by the electrostatic potential of the nucleus, but by interaction between electrons. For an electron to atomic electron transition, transition between two different states, e.g. ground state to first excited state, it must absorb or emit a photon at an energy matching the difference in the potential energy of those levels, according to the
Niels Bohr Niels Henrik David Bohr (; 7 October 1885 – 18 November 1962) was a Danish Danish may refer to: * Something of, from, or related to the country of Denmark * A national or citizen of Denmark, also called a "Dane", see Demographics of De ...

Niels Bohr
model, what can be precisely calculated by the
Schrödinger equation The Schrödinger equation is a linear Linearity is the property of a mathematical relationship (''function Function or functionality may refer to: Computing * Function key A function key is a key on a computer A computer is a ma ...
. Electrons jump between orbitals in a particle-like fashion. For example, if a single photon strikes the electrons, only a single electron changes states in response to the photon; see Atomic orbital, Electron properties. The energy of an emitted photon is proportional to its frequency, so these specific energy levels appear as distinct bands in the electromagnetic spectrum. Each element has a characteristic spectrum that can depend on the nuclear charge, subshells filled by electrons, the electromagnetic interactions between the electrons and other factors. When a continuous electromagnetic spectrum, spectrum of energy is passed through a gas or plasma, some of the photons are absorbed by atoms, causing electrons to change their energy level. Those excited electrons that remain bound to their atom spontaneously emit this energy as a photon, traveling in a random direction, and so drop back to lower energy levels. Thus the atoms behave like a filter that forms a series of dark absorption bands in the energy output. (An observer viewing the atoms from a view that does not include the continuous spectrum in the background, instead sees a series of emission lines from the photons emitted by the atoms.) Spectroscopy, Spectroscopic measurements of the strength and width of atomic spectral lines allow the composition and physical properties of a substance to be determined. Close examination of the spectral lines reveals that some display a fine structure splitting. This occurs because of spin-orbit coupling, which is an interaction between the spin and motion of the outermost electron. When an atom is in an external magnetic field, spectral lines become split into three or more components; a phenomenon called the Zeeman effect. This is caused by the interaction of the magnetic field with the magnetic moment of the atom and its electrons. Some atoms can have multiple electron configurations with the same energy level, which thus appear as a single spectral line. The interaction of the magnetic field with the atom shifts these electron configurations to slightly different energy levels, resulting in multiple spectral lines. The presence of an external electric field can cause a comparable splitting and shifting of spectral lines by modifying the electron energy levels, a phenomenon called the Stark effect. If a bound electron is in an excited state, an interacting photon with the proper energy can cause stimulated emission of a photon with a matching energy level. For this to occur, the electron must drop to a lower energy state that has an energy difference matching the energy of the interacting photon. The emitted photon and the interacting photon then move off in parallel and with matching phases. That is, the wave patterns of the two photons are synchronized. This physical property is used to make lasers, which can emit a coherent beam of light energy in a narrow frequency band.


Valence and bonding behavior

Valency is the combining power of an element. It is determined by the number of bonds it can form to other atoms or groups. The outermost electron shell of an atom in its uncombined state is known as the valence shell, and the electrons in that shell are called valence electrons. The number of valence electrons determines the chemical bond, bonding behavior with other atoms. Atoms tend to Chemical reaction, chemically react with each other in a manner that fills (or empties) their outer valence shells. For example, a transfer of a single electron between atoms is a useful approximation for bonds that form between atoms with one-electron more than a filled shell, and others that are one-electron short of a full shell, such as occurs in the compound sodium chloride and other chemical ionic salts. Many elements display multiple valences, or tendencies to share differing numbers of electrons in different compounds. Thus,
chemical bond A chemical bond is a lasting attraction between atom An atom is the smallest unit of ordinary matter In classical physics and general chemistry, matter is any substance that has mass and takes up space by having volume. All everyday ...
ing between these elements takes many forms of electron-sharing that are more than simple electron transfers. Examples include the element carbon and the organic compounds. The
chemical element upright=1.0, 500px, The chemical elements ordered by link=Periodic table In chemistry Chemistry is the science, scientific study of the properties and behavior of matter. It is a natural science that covers the Chemical element, eleme ...
s are often displayed in a
periodic table The periodic table, also known as the periodic table of (the) chemical elements, is a tabular display of the chemical element upright=1.0, 500px, The chemical elements ordered by link=Periodic table In chemistry Chemistry is ...

periodic table
that is laid out to display recurring chemical properties, and elements with the same number of valence electrons form a group that is aligned in the same column of the table. (The horizontal rows correspond to the filling of a quantum shell of electrons.) The elements at the far right of the table have their outer shell completely filled with electrons, which results in chemically inert elements known as the noble gases.


States

Quantities of atoms are found in different states of matter that depend on the physical conditions, such as temperature and pressure. By varying the conditions, materials can transition between
solid Solid is one of the four fundamental states of matter (the others being liquid A liquid is a nearly incompressible fluid In physics, a fluid is a substance that continually Deformation (mechanics), deforms (flows) under an applied ...

solid
s,
liquid A liquid is a nearly incompressible In fluid mechanics or more generally continuum mechanics, incompressible flow (isochoric process, isochoric flow) refers to a fluid flow, flow in which the material density is constant within a fluid par ...

liquid
s,
gas Gas is one of the four fundamental states of matter (the others being solid Solid is one of the four fundamental states of matter (the others being liquid, gas and plasma). The molecules in a solid are closely packed together and c ...

gas
es and plasma (physics), plasmas. Within a state, a material can also exist in different allotropes. An example of this is solid carbon, which can exist as graphite or diamond. Gaseous allotropes exist as well, such as dioxygen and ozone. At temperatures close to absolute zero, atoms can form a Bose–Einstein condensate, at which point quantum mechanical effects, which are normally only observed at the atomic scale, become apparent on a macroscopic scale. This super-cooled collection of atoms then behaves as a single super atom, which may allow fundamental checks of quantum mechanical behavior.


Identification

While atoms are too small to be seen, devices such as the scanning tunneling microscope (STM) enable their visualization at the surfaces of solids. The microscope uses the quantum tunneling phenomenon, which allows particles to pass through a barrier that would be insurmountable in the classical perspective. Electrons tunnel through the vacuum between two Biasing, biased electrodes, providing a tunneling current that is exponentially dependent on their separation. One electrode is a sharp tip ideally ending with a single atom. At each point of the scan of the surface the tip's height is adjusted so as to keep the tunneling current at a set value. How much the tip moves to and away from the surface is interpreted as the height profile. For low bias, the microscope images the averaged electron orbitals across closely packed energy levels—the local density of states, density of the electronic states near the Fermi level. Because of the distances involved, both electrodes need to be extremely stable; only then periodicities can be observed that correspond to individual atoms. The method alone is not chemically specific, and cannot identify the atomic species present at the surface. Atoms can be easily identified by their mass. If an atom is
ion An ion () is an atom An atom is the smallest unit of ordinary matter In classical physics and general chemistry, matter is any substance that has mass and takes up space by having volume. All everyday objects that can be touched are ...
ized by removing one of its electrons, its trajectory when it passes through a magnetic field will bend. The radius by which the trajectory of a moving ion is turned by the magnetic field is determined by the mass of the atom. The Mass spectrometry, mass spectrometer uses this principle to measure the mass-to-charge ratio of ions. If a sample contains multiple isotopes, the mass spectrometer can determine the proportion of each isotope in the sample by measuring the intensity of the different beams of ions. Techniques to vaporize atoms include inductively coupled plasma atomic emission spectroscopy and inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry, both of which use a plasma to vaporize samples for analysis. The atom probe, atom-probe tomograph has sub-nanometer resolution in 3-D and can chemically identify individual atoms using time-of-flight mass spectrometry. Electron emission techniques such as X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) and Auger electron spectroscopy (AES), which measure the binding energies of the core electrons, are used to identify the atomic species present in a sample in a non-destructive way. With proper focusing both can be made area-specific. Another such method is electron energy loss spectroscopy (EELS), which measures the energy loss of an electron beam within a transmission electron microscope when it interacts with a portion of a sample. Spectra of excited states can be used to analyze the atomic composition of distant stars. Specific light wavelengths contained in the observed light from stars can be separated out and related to the quantized transitions in free gas atoms. These colors can be replicated using a gas-discharge lamp containing the same element. Helium was discovered in this way in the spectrum of the Sun 23 years before it was found on Earth.


Origin and current state

Baryonic matter forms about 4% of the total energy density of the observable Universe, with an average density of about 0.25 particles/m3 (mostly
proton A proton is a subatomic particle, symbol or , with a positive electric charge of +1''e'' elementary charge and a mass slightly less than that of a neutron. Protons and neutrons, each with masses of approximately one atomic mass unit, are collecti ...

proton
s and electrons). Within a galaxy such as the Milky Way, particles have a much higher concentration, with the density of matter in the interstellar medium (ISM) ranging from 105 to 109 atoms/m3. The Sun is believed to be inside the Local Bubble, so the density in the solar neighborhood is only about 103 atoms/m3. Stars form from dense clouds in the ISM, and the evolutionary processes of stars result in the steady enrichment of the ISM with elements more massive than hydrogen and helium. Up to 95% of the Milky Way's baryonic matter are concentrated inside stars, where conditions are unfavorable for atomic matter. The total baryonic mass is about 10% of the mass of the galaxy; the remainder of the mass is an unknown dark matter. High temperature inside stars makes most "atoms" fully ionized, that is, separates ''all'' electrons from the nuclei. In stellar remnants—with exception of their surface layers—an immense pressure make electron shells impossible.


Formation

Electrons are thought to exist in the Universe since early stages of the Big Bang. Atomic nuclei forms in nucleosynthesis reactions. In about three minutes Big Bang nucleosynthesis produced most of the helium, lithium, and deuterium in the Universe, and perhaps some of the beryllium and boron. Ubiquitousness and stability of atoms relies on their binding energy, which means that an atom has a lower energy than an unbound system of the nucleus and electrons. Where the temperature is much higher than ionization potential, the matter exists in the form of
plasma Plasma or plasm may refer to: Science * Plasma (physics), one of the four fundamental states of matter * Plasma (mineral) or heliotrope, a mineral aggregate * Quark–gluon plasma, a state of matter in quantum chromodynamics Biology * Blood plasma ...
—a gas of positively charged ions (possibly, bare nuclei) and electrons. When the temperature drops below the ionization potential, atoms become statistical physics, statistically favorable. Atoms (complete with bound electrons) became to dominate over electric charge, charged particles 380,000 years after the Big Bang—an epoch called recombination (cosmology), recombination, when the expanding Universe cooled enough to allow electrons to become attached to nuclei. Since the Big Bang, which produced no carbon or atomic number, heavier elements, atomic nuclei have been combined in stars through the process of nuclear fusion to produce more of the element helium, and (via the triple alpha process) the sequence of elements from carbon up to iron; see stellar nucleosynthesis for details. Isotopes such as lithium-6, as well as some beryllium and boron are generated in space through cosmic ray spallation. This occurs when a high-energy proton strikes an atomic nucleus, causing large numbers of nucleons to be ejected. Elements heavier than iron were produced in supernovae and colliding neutron stars through the r-process, and in Asymptotic giant branch, AGB stars through the s-process, both of which involve the capture of neutrons by atomic nuclei. Elements such as lead formed largely through the radioactive decay of heavier elements.


Earth

Most of the atoms that make up the Earth and its inhabitants were present in their current form in the nebula that collapsed out of a molecular cloud to form the Solar System. The rest are the result of radioactive decay, and their relative proportion can be used to determine the age of the Earth through radiometric dating.#refManuel2001, Manuel (2001). ''Origin of Elements in the Solar System'', pp. 407-430, 511-519 Most of the helium in the crust of the Earth (about 99% of the helium from gas wells, as shown by its lower abundance of helium-3) is a product of alpha decay. There are a few trace atoms on Earth that were not present at the beginning (i.e., not "primordial"), nor are results of radioactive decay. Carbon-14 is continuously generated by cosmic rays in the atmosphere. Some atoms on Earth have been artificially generated either deliberately or as by-products of nuclear reactors or explosions. Of the Transuranium element, transuranic elements—those with atomic numbers greater than 92—only plutonium and neptunium occur naturally on Earth. Transuranic elements have radioactive lifetimes shorter than the current age of the Earth and thus identifiable quantities of these elements have long since decayed, with the exception of traces of plutonium-244 possibly deposited by cosmic dust. Natural deposits of plutonium and neptunium are produced by neutron capture in uranium ore. The Earth contains approximately atoms. Although small numbers of independent atoms of noble gases exist, such as argon, neon, and helium, 99% of Earth's atmosphere, the atmosphere is bound in the form of molecules, including carbon dioxide and Diatomic molecule, diatomic oxygen and nitrogen. At the surface of the Earth, an overwhelming majority of atoms combine to form various compounds, including water, salt, silicates and oxides. Atoms can also combine to create materials that do not consist of discrete molecules, including
crystal A crystal or crystalline solid is a solid material whose constituents (such as atoms, molecules, or ions) are arranged in a highly ordered microscopic structure, forming a crystal lattice that extends in all directions. In addition, macrosco ...

crystal
s and liquid or solid metals. This atomic matter forms networked arrangements that lack the particular type of small-scale interrupted order associated with molecular matter.


Rare and theoretical forms


Superheavy elements

All nuclides with atomic numbers higher than 82 (lead) are known to be radioactive. No nuclide with an atomic number exceeding 92 (uranium) exists on Earth as a primordial nuclide, and heavier elements generally have shorter half-lives. Nevertheless, an "island of stability" encompassing relatively long-lived isotopes of superheavy elements with atomic numbers darmstadtium, 110 to flerovium, 114 might exist. Predictions for the half-life of the most stable nuclide on the island range from a few minutes to millions of years. In any case, superheavy elements (with ''Z'' > 104) would not exist due to increasing Coulomb repulsion (which results in spontaneous fission with increasingly short half-lives) in the absence of any stabilizing effects.


Exotic matter

Each particle of matter has a corresponding antimatter particle with the opposite electrical charge. Thus, the positron is a positively charged antielectron and the antiproton is a negatively charged equivalent of a
proton A proton is a subatomic particle, symbol or , with a positive electric charge of +1''e'' elementary charge and a mass slightly less than that of a neutron. Protons and neutrons, each with masses of approximately one atomic mass unit, are collecti ...

proton
. When a matter and corresponding antimatter particle meet, they annihilate each other. Because of this, along with an imbalance between the number of matter and antimatter particles, the latter are rare in the universe. The first causes of this imbalance are not yet fully understood, although theories of baryogenesis may offer an explanation. As a result, no antimatter atoms have been discovered in nature. In 1996 the antimatter counterpart of the hydrogen atom (antihydrogen) was synthesized at the CERN laboratory in Geneva. Other exotic atoms have been created by replacing one of the protons, neutrons or electrons with other particles that have the same charge. For example, an electron can be replaced by a more massive muon, forming a muonic atom. These types of atoms can be used to test fundamental predictions of physics.


See also


Notes


References


Bibliography

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Further reading

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External links

* * {{Authority control Atoms, Chemistry Articles containing video clips