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Quantum Mechanical Model of the Atom

Recap on Bohr’s Atomic Model

In the 19th century, a Danish physicist by the name of Niels Bohr unveiled the structure of the atom. This model of the atom gained widespread popularity in the scientific community, becoming the most recognized interpretation of the atomic structure to this day. However, by the late 1920s’, Bohr’s atomic structurebecame rather obsolete as a plethora of new theories and ideas led to the creation of the quantum mechanical model of the atom.

Quantum Mechanics

Quantum Mechanics was a fairly new domain to scientists, its basis emphasises that matter has properties that are linked to waves. It essentially superseded Bohr’s model as this new theory could explain many of the limitations of the latter. For instance, Bohr’s model could effectively explain the structure of hydrogen but failed at explaining every other element on the periodic table. Though Bohr’s model was not completely successful in explaining the atom, it provided a valuable framework for future models.

How was this new model different from Bohr’s model?

In Bohr’s model, the atom consists of a nucleus with electrons in orbit around it. However, this was soon phased out and the electron orbits were replaced with complex orbital shapes, occasionally called electron clouds. This implied that the electron is not present in fixed, specific orbits, and it is impossible to pinpoint its exact location. As a result, the orbit always appeared blurred or fuzzy. This property is called the Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle, named after its founder, Werner Heisenberg, in 1927.

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