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Inorganic Chemistry For Dummies

Protons are positively charged and the number of them present give the atomic number. Within a sample of atoms of an element, there can also be a different amount of neutrons , which do not affect the atomic charge or atomic number, but only atomic mass , and these variations of mass number are known as isotopes. Collectively, protons and neutrons are called nucleons. The mass of these subatomic particles is measured in amu atomic mass units.

Beginner's guide: How nuclear power works

How much exactly is an amu? Scientists also are seeking a method to safely dispose nuclear waste to keep people safe from radioactive emissions. PET positron emission tomography scans and MRI magnetic resonance imaging are in use by doctors to observe soft body parts and identify disease. Geochemists and archaeologists measure the ages of rocks and archaeological artifacts by observing the decay of radioactive nuclides.

You would assume that the mass of a nucleus is just the sum of the masses of the neutrons and protons that it is made up of, but it's NOT. Why is this so? The difference in mass is what allows the the neutrons and protons to "stick" together, and we call this the binding energy. The binding energy of a nucleus is the negative of the energy change that would occur if that nucleus were formed from its component protons and neutrons. This would give the binding energy in the units of Joules J , which we can convert to electron volts eV. This is the same in subatomic particles.

Protons are repulsed by each other, so why don't the nuclei simply fly apart every time we put them together?


The repulsion is counterbalanced by the attractive strong nuclear force that acts between neutrons and nucleons other neutrons and protons. It's easy to imagine that the more nucleons that are in a nucleus, the more unstable it will be. On this graph, the blue band represents the stable nuclides, shown relative to a neutron-proton ratio. As the elements get heavier, the number of neutrons grows compared to the number of protons.

This is because that more neutrons are needed to counterbalance the forces between the number of protons, however, only a limited number of neutrons can provide this stabilizing influence, so we end up with this band. Nuclides on the right of the band have too many protons to be stable, so they will decrease the number of protons by spontaneous positron emission , or alternatively, electron capture.

Analyzing Atomic Structure for Chemistry

Nuclides on the left of the band have too many neutrons to be stable, so they will undergo spontaneous beta decay. Well, I suppose now we'll just have to dive straight in and learn about the following radioactive decay processes.

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It's not as bad as it sounds. Alpha particles are essentially helium nuclei. They have two protons and two neutrons and are emitted by nuclei which have too many protons and neutrons. Makes sense, right? Beta particles are essentially electrons, only they are emitted from the nucleus. Everything else is the same. They have a -1 charge, and are emitted by nuclei with too few protons. Think about it, if you eject a -1 charge, you become more positive, see? Also, this does change atomic number but not the mass number, what really happens is that a neutron ejects an electron and becomes a proton.

Gamma rays are what turned Bruce Banner into the Hulk. Yes, they are electromagnetic radiation of high energy and short wavelength, emitted when the product radioisotope is above the nuclear ground state.

Beginner's guide: How nuclear power works | Environment | The Guardian

It doesn't change atomic number or mass number. Positrons are the antiparticles of electrons. Electron capture is when a nucleus "eats" an electron, and converts a proton into a neutron. Nope, it doesn't change mass number, but the atomic number decreases by one. It's the same result as positron emission! For those of you who are attempting problems: Remember, that before and after these reactions, both mass number and atomic number must be conserved!

What happened to all that talk about radioactivity? We measure that stuff with Geiger-Muller counters, which you may or may not want to read about here or here more advanced explanation. We can also use scintillation counters to make measurements. Oo, what is this fancy word? Elements are the simplest pure substance.

An atom, therefore, is the smallest particle of an element that has the properties of that element. So if you have an Oxygen atom, it has the same exact properties as another Oxygen atom. What is the nucleus? The nucleus is the core of an atom, containing roughly While the nucleus contains most of the mass, it is very small. An comparison might be to think of a bee in the center of a football stadium. What is a nucleon? Nucleons are the subatomic particles found in the nucleus. The particles make the nucleus spin. Their rates of spin are based on certain energy levels called its energy spectrum.

If an atom is not spinning, its in its ground state, while if its spinning its in the excited state. The nucleons are arranged in orbits, based on the amount of activity they possess. What is a Proton? Protons are positively charged. All protons are identical, regardless of the element. The mass of the typical proton is roughly 1amu.

Protons are often used to figure out the atomic number. What is a Neutron? Neutrons are electrically neutral. All neutrons are identical, and have more mass than do protons, but they still consider the mass to be 1amu. Atomic Number: What determines the atomic number? The number of protons in a nucleus. This determines what element the atom belongs to. The atomic number identifies the element. Isotope: Even though the atomic number of an element will never change, the number of neutrons may change. Atoms of the same element that have the same number of protons but different numbers of neutrons are called isotopes.

Atomic Mass: Is the average of all the isotopes of that element as they occur in nature. This is why it is not always a whole number. In an uncharged atom the number of electrons equals the number of protons, so it is said that this atom is neutral. Electrons whirl around the nucleus at billions of times per second. Electron cloud: Is a space in which electrons are likely to be found. A comparison can be found in comparing bees to a beehive. Each electron is locked into a certain area of the electron cloud.

The location of an electron depends on how much energy it has. Electrons are arranged in energy levels. Electrons with the lowest energy are found closest to the nucleus, while the those with the highest energy are found farthest from the nucleus. Valence number: What on earth is a valence??? Valence determines how many electrons an element will gain, lose or share. For example. An element with a valence number of 4 could gain, lose or share 4 of its electrons. An element with a valence number of 0 could gain, lose or share none of its electrons.

Why is this? Its outermost energy level is full, and the element is said to be inert. How do we know this? If we keep going higher and higher in atomic numbers, we start to see that not only are they arranged in rows but the pattern repeats itself to the point of making columns as well. All the elements in a column have the same valence! Orbital: The energy levels that the electrons are organized in. These come in various shapes around the nucleus. Periodic Law: Elements are arranged by atomic number, and by doing this elements with similar physical and chemical properties fall into place!

To put this into scientific terms for all the science minded, Periodic Law states that the physical and chemical properties of the elements are periodic functions of their atomic numbers. What is the Periodic Table? The Periodic Table is a classification system. Based on its position in the Periodic Table, you can predict its physical and chemical properties. These are called groups or families. Elements within the same group or family have similar but not identical properties. For example lithium 3, sodium 11, and Potassium 19 are members of family 1.

They are all highly reactive, and thus can easily combine with other elements to form compounds. Rows of the Periodic Table: Each horizontal row is called a period. Unlike elements in a family, elements in a period are not alike in properties. What you do notice is that the first element in each period is an extremely active solid, while the last element is an inactive gas.

There are seven periods of elements. The two rows that have been separated out of the main table are rare-earth elements.

Metals: Most of the elements on the periodic table are metals. The 88 elements to the left of the zigzag line are metals. All metals have several physical properties. One, is that they have a luster, or that they are shiny. Also, metals are able to conduct electricity. Metals are usually high in density, and metals have high melting points. Most metals are ductile, or they can be drawn out to wires, and most metals are malleable, which means they can be hammered into sheets.

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Chemical properties of metals: These will depend on the electron arrangement in the outer energy shell. Most metals tend to lose their outermost electrons when they combine chemically. Because metals lose their electrons, they tend to react with water or the atmosphere, this reaction is called corrosion. Nonmetals: Elements that are nonmetals are located to the right of the zigzag line in the periodic table. Fewer elements are classified as nonmetals. The properties of nonmetals tend to be the opposite of metals.

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