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Author Topic: QotW - 14.01.06 - Why don't electrons fall into the atomic nucleus?  (Read 8621 times)

Offline thedoc

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Why don't electrons fall into the centres of atoms?
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« Last Edit: 06/01/2014 13:00:45 by chris »


Offline alexalok

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because centrifugal and centripetal forces balances each other............

Offline alancalverd

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Sadly, no. An accelerating charge radiates electromagnetic energy and would therefore spiral in to the nucleus. This is the fundamental problem with the Bohr model of the atom, and the reason why we have replaced  the notion of orbiting electrons with "orbitals" - effectively, maps of the probability of finding an electron at any point in space.

Offline Atomic-S

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More exactly, an accelerating irregularity in the charge distribution radiates.  A spinning electrically charged disk does not radiate.  This is significant in re. electron motions in atoms, because the quantum states corresponding to definite energies have, for single atoms, circularly symmetric distribution patterns, and for molecules, the patterns are often asymmetric but still time-independent. Effectively there is a stationary probability distribution even though the electrons do have kinetic energy.

Offline evan_au

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There is one rare instance where an electron does end up in the nucleus: a radioactive decay process called "electron capture".

In this scenario, an electron finds itself inside a large, unstable nucleus (with very low probability). The electron combines with a proton, producing a neutron and emitting a neutrino. Since the atom now has a different number of protons & electrons, this changes the atom into a different element.


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