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Rutherford's Nuclear Model of an Atom - Notes | Study Physics Class 12 - NEET

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Dalton’s Atomic Theory

All elements are consists of very small invisible particles, called atoms. Atoms of same element are exactly same and atoms of different element are different.


Thomson’s Atomic Model

Every atom is uniformly positive charged sphere of radius of the order of 10-10 m, in which entire mass is uniformly distributed and negative charged electrons are embedded randomly. The atom as a whole is neutral.
Thomson`s atomic modelThomson's atomic model


Limitations of Thomson’s Atomic Model

  • It could not explain the origin of spectral series of hydrogen and other atoms.
  • It could not explain large angle scattering of α – particles.

Rutherford’s Atomic Model

On the basis of this experiment, Rutherford made following observations:

  • The entire positive charge and almost entire mass of the atom is concentrated at its centre in a very tiny region of the order of 10-15 m, called nucleus.
  • The negatively charged electrons revolve around the nucleus in different orbits.
  • The total positive charge 011 nucleus is equal to the total negative charge on electron. Therefore atom as a overall is neutral.
  • The centripetal force required by electron for revolution is provided by the electrostatic force of attraction between the electrons and the nucleus.
    Rutherford`s Atomic Model
    Rutherford's Atomic Model


Distance of Closest Approach

ro = 1 / 4π εo . 2Ze2 / Ek

where, Ek = kinetic energy of the cc-particle.

Impact Parameter

The perpendicular distance of the velocity vector of a-particle from the central line of the nucleus, when the particle is far away from the nucleus is called impact parameter.

Impact parameter

Rutherford`s Nuclear Model of an Atom - Notes | Study Physics Class 12 - NEET

where, Z = atomic number of the nucleus, Ek = kinetic energy of the c-particle and θ = angle of scattering.

Rutherford’s Scattering Formula

Rutherford`s Nuclear Model of an Atom - Notes | Study Physics Class 12 - NEET

where, N(θ) =number of c-particles, Ni = total number of α-particles reach the screen. n = number of atoms per unit volume in the foil, Z = atoms number, E = kinetic energy of the alpha particles and t = foil thickness

Rutherford`s Nuclear Model of an Atom - Notes | Study Physics Class 12 - NEET

Limitations of Rutherford Atomic Model
  • About the Stability of Atom: According to Maxwell’s electromagnetic wave theory electron should emit energy in the form of electromagnetic wave during its orbital motion. Therefore. radius of orbit of electron will decrease gradually and ultimately it will fall in the nucleus.
  • About the Line Spectrum: Rutherford atomic model cannot explain atomic line spectrum.
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