The snapshot of electron "orbiting" the nucleus prefer planets approximately the sun remains an enduring one, not only in famous images of the atom but likewise in the psychic of numerous of us who know better. The proposal, very first made in 1913, that the centrifugal force of the revolving electron just precisely balances the attractive pressure of the cell core (in analogy with the centrifugal force of the moon in the orbit exactly counteracting the traction of the Earth"s gravity) is a pretty picture, yet is simply untenable.

You are watching: Why electron does not fall into nucleus

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Figure (PageIndex1): Most well-known science images of the atom show electrons moving about a nucleus choose planets roughly the sun. These images are quite just wrong. Lock come native an old idea about the structure of the atom and also have lasted, partly from habit, and partly due to the fact that the contemporary view of the arrangement of electrons in the atom is too challenging to draw an easy pictures of.

One origin for this theory that argues this perspective is plausible is the similarity that the gravity and also Coulombic interactions. The expression for the force of gravity between two masses (Newton"s law of gravity) is

with

(m_1) and also (m_2) representing the mass of object 1 and 2, respectively and (r) representing the distance between the objects centers

The expression for the Coulomb force in between two charged types is

with

(q_1) and also (q_2) representing the charge of object 1 and also 2, respectively and also (r) representing the distance between the objects centers

However, one electron, unlike a planet or a satellite, is electrically charged, and also it has been known since the mid-19th century that an electrical charge that undergoes acceleration (changes velocity and direction) will emit electromagnetic radiation, losing power in the process. A revolving electron would transform the atom right into a miniature radio station, the energy output that which would be in ~ the cost of the potential power of the electron; follow to timeless mechanics, the electron would merely spiral into the nucleus and the atom would collapse.

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Figure (PageIndex2): The classical death spiral of one electron roughly a nucleus.

Quantum concept to the Rescue!

By the 1920"s, it ended up being clear that a tiny object such as the electron can not be treated together a classic particle having a definite position and also velocity. The ideal we can do is specify the probability of its manifesting itself at any allude in space. If you had actually a magic camera that can take a sequence of photos of the electron in the 1s orbit of a hydrogen atom, and also could incorporate the result dots in a solitary image, you would view something choose this. Clearly, the electron is more likely to be discovered the closer we relocate toward the nucleus.

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