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Atoms Part 1 Page 1

Topic II. Atoms Part 1

Reading Integrated Chemistry Today (2nd Ed.), L.H.M Chung, Book 1A, pg 22 – 24

Objectives 1.2.0 – 1.2.1

– recognise that elements are different because their basic constituent particles called atoms are different
– be aware that atoms consist of protons, neutrons and electrons
– state the relative mass and charge of protons, neutrons and electrons, as well as their arrangement in an atom

Notes II. Atoms

Atom is the smallest part of an element and there are only 111 different elements, therefore, there are only 111
different kinds of atoms.
Because of this, a symbol of element may also be used to represent the atom of that element. For example, S may
represent the element sulphur or an atom of sulphur.

A. Structure of atoms

Development of models of atom

Year Scientist Experiment Significance Model

1808 Dalton Oil drop experiment Atom is indivisible sphere

1899 Thomson Cathode ray tube Discovery of electron and

atom is no longer

1911 Rutherford Gold foil scattering Most of the space inside

experiment the atom are empty,
majority of the mass is
concentrated in a small
region called nucleus.

1913 Bohr Spectrum of Electrons are orbiting

hydrogen around the nucleus
(will be studied in
advanced level)

All these are only models of atom which help to explain the findings observed. Nobody knows actually what an
atom is. A model is only good enough to explain what you want it to explain.
II. Atoms Part 1 Page 2

1. Fundamental sub-atomic particles

Another British scientist Chadwick discovered that the nucleus could be broken further into particles called
protons and neutrons. Proton is a kind of positively charged particle and neutron doesn’t carry any charge at all.

Fundamental sub-atomic Symbol Relative electrical Relative mass

particle charge
proton p +1 1
neutron n 0 1
electron e- -1 1

Different elements consist of different kind of atoms, but all atoms consist of only proton, neutron and electron.
(Except hydrogen-1 which consists of only 1 proton and 1 electron.)

The difference between different atoms is only in the number of the proton, neutron and electron. Therefore,
proton, neutron and electron are called fundamental sub-atomic particles.

‘Fundamental’ means very basic, all atoms are comprised of electrons, protons and neutrons.
‘Sub-atomic’ means below or under atom.

The mass of an electron was found to be only of that of a proton or neutron. The ratio is just similar to the
weight of our hair to the weight of our body. Because of this, in the counting of the mass of an atom, the mass of
the electrons are usually omitted.

Hierarchy of particles
Substance Element Atom Proton

Glossary atom model Dalton Thomson Rutherford Bohr cathode ray tube gold foil
scattering experiment nucleus electron neutron proton fundamental sub-atomic

Past Paper
II. Atoms Part 1 Page 3