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Author Topic: Why protons?  (Read 1589 times)

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Why protons?
« on: 17/02/2013 15:19:30 »
If in chemical reaction only electrons take part then why protons determine which chemical is which??


 

Offline CliffordK

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Re: Why protons?
« Reply #1 on: 17/02/2013 20:14:51 »
Protons, of course, determine the number of electrons and electron shells orbiting the atom.

While an atom may tend to form ions, unbalanced charges would certainly affect the chemical reactivity.

So, you could say that Chlorine can exist in neutral form with 17 electrons, or ionic form, Cl with 18 electrons, but it is still the same element.
 

Offline evan_au

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Re: Why protons?
« Reply #2 on: 18/02/2013 08:33:15 »
It is true that the electron plays an essential role in nearly all chemical reactions.

In most cases the proton plays an indirect role:
  • It is a compact positive charge around which the electrons cluster
  • The number of electrons which are attracted by electrostatic force is determined by the number of protons in the nucleus
The neutron plays an even more indirect role:
  • It keeps the nucleus stable, so the chemical reactions can take place
  • The number of neutrons+protons determine the resonant frequency of molecular vibrations, and thus its infra-red spectrum
However, there is an important class of chemical reactions where the proton plays a direct role: Those involving the H+ ion, which is essentially a solo proton. This is the source of an intense positive electric field, and plays an important role in acidic reactions.

The H+ ion carries such an intense electric field that it rarely remains alone for long - in the familiar water solution, it is quickly surrounded by a cluster of water molecules, whose internal electric field partially diffuses the electric field of the proton - but it is still packs a powerful chemical punch.
 

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Re: Why protons?
« Reply #2 on: 18/02/2013 08:33:15 »

 

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