What are subatomic particles? please read?
Im taking chem and I'm soooooo confused on pretty much everything except the math portion. like what are subatomic particles? what's a neutron? proton? electron? what are the points of all then? please help.
- Favorite Answer
Subatomic particles are particles that are smaller than atoms.
Some of them go to make up atoms -- protons, neutrons, and electrons. There are lots and lots of others, but you won't encounter any of those in chemistry.
The only way to answer the "what is it?" question, is by describing the thing; giving its properties. Because that's all anybody knows about it.
First of all, the atom is really tiny, on the order of 1 or 2 ten-millionths of a mm
(that's 1 or 2 Ångstroms=10ˉ¹⁰m, which is 0.1 or 0.2 nm=10ˉ⁹m).
Each atom consists of a nucleus, which is a "ball" a few fm ("femtometers" = "fermis" = 10ˉ¹⁵m) across
(fm = 1/100,000 Å = 1/1,000,000 nm)
and has almost all the mass of the atom, surrounded by a cloud of electrons, which gives the atom its size.
The proton and the neutron are particles each about 1 fm in diameter. The proton has +1 elementary electric charge (=1.6•10ˉ¹⁹Coul), while the neutron is electrically neutral (so the name is no coincidence).
The electron seems to be a point particle; no size has been found for it. It carries -1 elementary charge.
These are the atom's constituents; the way they behave when they're clumped into an atom, gives the atom its properties, and putting different numbers of each together, makes a different atom with different properties (and that's the point of them).
There's an enormous amount to the way they all interact, but for just the basics,
• All nucleons (protons and neutrons) attract each other by the Strong Nuclear Interaction. This force is always attractive, and is extremely strong, but only up to distances of 1 or 2 fm. Beyond that, electric repulsion dominates, for two protons (like electric charges repel)
• All protons repel each other by electrostatic force, but the Strong Nuclear force of attraction overcomes that at close distances.
• The electrons are attracted to the nucleus, because they are all - charges, and the nucleus is a + charge. They repel each other, so they 'stay out of each other's way' as they hover around the nucleus.
That explains why the nucleus is always such a tight little ball, and why, if it gets too big, it tends to fly apart on its own (trans-uranic elements), because there get to be too many + charges repelling each other, for the limited number of close-neighbor nucleons to stay stuck together by Strong Nuclear attraction.
In chemistry, what's important about this picture, is more details about the way those electrons arrange themselves around nuclei with different numbers of protons (it's the atomic number, Z = the # of protons, that gives an atom its identity as an element; Z=1 is hydrogen, Z=2 is helium, Z=3 is lithium, etc.).
The rules of QM (quantum mechanics) determine how the electrons behave in their attempts to stay close to the nucleus, while avoiding each other. The two main constraints imposed on the atom by QM are the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, and the Pauli Exclusion Principle.
Those two things would take a bunch more explanation, but I hope this can launch you into the right direction, and help you a little to understand those things when they are introduced to you.
- AIM-7Lv 57 years ago
Subatomic particles are as their title suggest; They are even smaller particles contained within the atom such as the electron, proton and neutron (the latter two together are the nucleons) in all atomic elements. Atoms came from the philosophical notion of atomism, the notion that you can take an object and divide it into smaller and smaller pieces or particles until you reach a tiny indivisible chunk of material, called the atom. But it was found through experimentation when early models of the atom where being proposed that you could break the atom apart into smaller, subatomic constituents which became known as the electron, the neutron and proton. I'm not sure why they call them exactly those name, but neutron has no net electrical charge to it, hence its "neutral" in an electrical sense, the proton is positively charged, hence the name given to it. I'm not sure why they called the electron what it is, its probably because electrical current is the flow of electrons.
Its important to understand that the atom in the models is just that, a model. However, the current model does a very effective job at describing the actual tiny things we call "atoms" in experimentation.
Its important to have the concepts of protons and neutrons, because a differing number of protons defines the element in question. A differing number of neutrons in one specific element defines the isotopes of the element.
Just google for definitions of these subatomic particles.