Atomic Structure

Atomic Structure - 1 II- Atomic Structure: A Review...

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1 II- Atomic Structure: A Review Definitions All minerals have a specific chemical composition, and are thus made of one or more elements . An element is a substance in which all atoms are the same (i.e. have the same nuclear charge). Each element therefore has unique physical and chemical properties, defined by the structure of its atoms . An atom , the building block of the element, is the smallest part of matter that still retains the characteristics of this element. A compound is a combination of different atoms (elements). Not all compounds qualify for the definition of a mineral. Bonding is the process by which compounds (and hence minerals) form; i.e. the process of combination of elements. It is controlled by the characteristics of the combining elements which is in turn controlled by the internal structure of the atom. The atomic structure and elements The atom consists of neutral neutrons and positively charged protons (which form a dense nucleus) surrounded by negatively charged electrons . The number of protons of each atom is known as the atomic number (Z) whereas the total number of protons and neutrons is known as the mass number (A) . In each atom, electrons rotate around the nucleus in orbits (or shells ). Different shells with different energies occur at different distances from the nucleus. These shells, also known as energy levels , are labeled K, L, M, N, …. . etc., with the K shell being that closest to the nucleus, and is characterized by the lowest energy (Fig. 1). Electrons occurring within each one of these shells occupy different " orbitals ", defined as mathematical quantities that describe the energy state of an electron. These "orbitals" may be of different shapes, orientations and energies (Fig. 2). The "behavior" and "character" of any electron within an orbital are therefore fully described by four quantum numbers : (1) the principal quantum number " n " which determines the energy and overall size of the “shell” or “energy level”. (2) the orbital quantum number, " l " which determines the angular momentum of orbital electrons and configuration of the orbital ( l specifies the number of orbitals of different energies within the same shell or energy level). (3) the magnetic quantum number, "
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Atomic Structure - 1 II- Atomic Structure: A Review...

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