Atoms and Atomic Orbitals Fundamentals of the Atom An atom consists of a nucleus of protons and neutrons, surrounded by electrons. Each of the elements in the periodic table is classified according to its atomic number, which is the number of protons in that element's nucleus. Protons have a charge of +1, electrons have a charge of -1, and neutrons have no charge. Neutral atoms have the same number of electrons and protons, but they can have a varying number of neutrons. Within a given element, atoms with different numbers of neutrons are isotopes of that element. Isotopes typically exhibit similar chemical behavior to each other. Electrons have such little mass that they exhibit properties of both particles and waves; in. We further know from Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle that it is impossible to know the precise location of an electron. Despite this limitation, there are regions around the atom where the electron has a high probability of being found. Such regions are referred to as atomic orbitals.
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This note was uploaded on 11/14/2011 for the course CHEM ch 101 taught by Professor - during the Fall '10 term at Montgomery.