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Rutherford Atomic Model- Experiments, Postulates, Diagram and its Drawbacks

Rutherford Atomic Model

The Rutherford model, also known as the Rutherford atomic model, nuclear atom, or planetary model of the atom, is a description of atom structure developed by Ernest Rutherford, a New Zealand-born scientist, in 1911. The model depicted the atom as a small, compact, positively charged centre called a nucleus, in which nearly all of the mass is concentrated, and around which the light, negative constituents known as electrons circle at a distance, similar to planets rotating around the Sun.

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Rutherford Atomic Model: Diagram

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Rutherford Atomic Model: Experiments

Rutherford Alpha Scattering Experiment

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To account for the scattering of alpha particles from thin gold foil reported in a series of experiments conducted by undergraduate Ernest Marsden under the direction of Rutherford and German scientist Hans Geiger in 1909, the nucleus was proposed as small and dense. Within a protective lead shield, a radioactive source generating alpha particles (positively charged particles equivalent to the helium atom nucleus and 7,000 times more heavy than electrons) was contained. After passing through a slit in a lead screen, the radiation was focussed into a narrow beam. To detect alpha particles, a thin section of gold foil was placed in front of the slit, and a screen coated with zinc sulphide to make it luminous acted as a counter.

Each alpha particle created a scintillation when it hit the fluorescent screen, which was seen through a viewing microscope mounted to the rear of the screen. Rutherford and his colleagues were able to move the screen around to see if any alpha particles were being deflected by the gold foil.

The vast majority of alpha particles slipped right through the gold foil, implying that atoms are largely made up of empty space. The tiny deflection of some alpha particles suggests interactions with other positively charged particles within the atom. Other alpha particles were thrown in all directions, and a few even bounced back toward the source. Such tremendous repulsion could only be explained by a positively charged and relatively hefty target particle, such as the suggested nucleus. Negative electrons were thought to circulate in circular orbits around the nucleus, balancing the positive nuclear charge electrically.

Rutherford Atomic Model: Postulates

Rutherford made the observations in his experiments and gave the following postulates:

  • Positively charged particles and the majority of an atom’s mass were concentrated in a very small volume. This part of the atom was dubbed a nucleus by him.
  • The Rutherford model stated that the nucleus of an atom is surrounded by negatively charged electrons. He also claimed that the electrons that surround the nucleus travel in circular routes at great speeds. These circular routes were given the name orbits by him.
  • The nucleus is held together by a strong electrostatic force of attraction because electrons are negatively charged and the nucleus is a densely concentrated mass of positively charged particles.


Rutherford Atomic Model and its DrawBacks

The Rutherford atomic theory was not some mere theory, but an experiment based obervations. But, still the theory had some short comings.

According to Rutherford, electrons orbit the nucleus in set trajectories termed orbits. According to Maxwell, accelerating charged particles release electromagnetic radiation, thus an electron rotating around the nucleus should do the same. This radiation would transmit energy from the electron’s motion, but at the expense of orbital shrinkage. The electrons would eventually collapse in the nucleus. According to calculations, an electron would disintegrate in the nucleus in less than 10-8 seconds using the Rutherford model. As a result, the Rutherford model contradicted Maxwell’s theory and was unable to explain atom stability.

Despite the fact that the early atomic models were erroneous and failed to explain certain experimental results, they served as the foundation for future quantum mechanics breakthroughs. One of the flaws of the Rutherford model was that he did not address the configuration of electrons in an atom, leaving his theory incomplete.

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Rutherford Atomic Model: FAQs

Ques. What is Rutherford atomic model explain?

Ans. Rutherford’s atomic model portrayed the atom as a compact, dense, positively charged nucleus in which nearly all of the mass is concentrated, and around which the light, negative constituents, termed electrons, rotate at a distance, similar to planets rotating around the Sun.

Ques. What are the main points of Rutherford theory?

Ans. A positive charge exists in the nucleus. Electrons are negatively charged particles. The nucleus is orbited by electrons. The atom’s volume is dominated by the empty space between the nucleus and the electrons.

Ques. What is the conclusion of Rutherford model?

Ans. The majority of the atom’s space is empty. As a result, the majority of the -particles passed through the gold foil without deviating from their intended route. In the centre of the atom, there is a positive small component that deflects or repels the -particles.

Ques. What is Schrodinger atomic model?

Ans. To describe the possibility of detecting an electron in a specific position, Schrödinger employed mathematical equations. The quantum mechanical model of the atom is the name given to this atomic model.

Ques. Who discovered the proton?

Ans. Ernest Rutherford released his results demonstrating the existence of the proton more than a century ago. For decades, the proton was thought to be a fundamental particle.

Ques. What were the limitations of Rutherford atomic model?

Ans. Rutherford’s model proved insufficient to explain atom stability. It didn’t say anything about an electron’s orbital structure. According to Rutherford’s idea, electrons travel in a circular path around the nucleus.

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