Atomic structure refers to the structure of an atom comprising a nucleus (centre) in which the protons (positively charged) and neutrons (neutral) are present. The negatively charged particles called electrons revolve around the centre of the nucleus.
The history of atomic structure and quantum mechanics dates back to the times of Democritus, the man who first proposed that matter is composed of atoms. The study about the structure of an atom gives a great insight into the entire class of chemical reactions, bonds and their physical properties. The first scientific theory of atomic structure was proposed by John Dalton in the 1800s.
What is Atomic Structure?
The atomic structure of an element refers to the constitution of its nucleus and the arrangement of the electrons around it. Primarily, the atomic structure of matter is made up of protons, electrons and neutrons.
The protons and neutrons make up the nucleus of the atom, which is surrounded by the electrons belonging to the atom. The atomic number of an element describes the total number of protons in its nucleus.
Neutral atoms have equal numbers of protons and electrons. However, atoms may gain or lose electrons in order to increase their stability and the resulting charged entity is called an ion.
Atoms of different elements have different atomic structures because they contain different numbers of protons and electrons. This is the reason for the unique characteristics of different elements.