Rutherford Scattering

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Rutherford pointed a stream of particles at a foil. His aim was to detect pieces of atom. However he found that:

1. Most alpha particles went through;
2. A few alpha particles were at various angles;
3. A very few alpha particles came back from where they came.

This led Rutherford to conclude that the atom consisted of a very nucleus, surrounded by electrons. Most of the atom was space.

Further calculations using the rules of potential showed that the minimum approach was 3 × 10-14 m. In reality the atom has a radius of about 1 × 10-14 m.

The nuclear radius is much than the radius of the atom. Most atoms have a radius of about 1 × 10-10 m. Since the nuclear radius is so much smaller than the atom, it allows for the atom radius to be .