Atoms without electrons

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  • #1
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hello everybody :)

Let's assume that we could steal all electrons of an atom. What would happen? How would the atom change its properties? Could we measure different values?
 

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  • #2
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Atoms do not have any definite structure but a nucleus around which negatively charged cloud suspends. So if all electrons are taken out you get bare nucleus.
Anyway practically the energy required to take out all electrons requires enormous energy due to attraction between + nucleus and - electron ...the effective nuclear charge.
 
  • #3
DrClaude
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Let's assume that we could steal all electrons of an atom. What would happen?
You don't need to assume. This is done routine in particle accelerators. For instance, at https://www.gsi.de/en/work/research/appamml/atomic_physics/research/experimental_facilities/hitrap.htm [Broken] they can work with bare nuclei up to U92+.

How would the atom change its properties? Could we measure different values?
It depends on what you mean by "properties." For instance, the electrons play a major role in the spectrum of an atom. Removing a single electron completely changes an atom's spectrum.
 
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  • #4
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[q]what you mean by "properties."[/q]

Well, it's certainly possible to measure some different values. And with the help of these values you can describe an atom.

For example the strong force inside a nucleus: If we could measure the strong force inside and outside the nucleus, could we notice a change, if we steal all electrons of an atom?
 
  • #5
ZapperZ
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A proton is a hydrogen atom with no electron.

An alpha particle is a helium atom with no electron.

These particles are relatively common and can be created. We know A LOT about their properties. Now, what is it about them that you think we don't know?

Zz.
 
  • #6
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For example the strong force inside a nucleus: If we could measure the strong force inside and outside the nucleus, could we notice a change, if we steal all electrons of an atom?
Electrons do not participate in the strong interaction.
 
  • #7
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[q]Electrons do not participate in the strong interaction.[/q]

Thank you, mfb.

What are the known differences in properties or behaviour between an atom WITH its atoms and the same atom WITHOUT its atoms? DrClaude has already mentioned this "spectrum". What does this mean? And are there some further changes?

(How can i make quotes here?)
 
  • #8
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What are the known differences in properties or behaviour between an atom WITH its atoms and the same atom WITHOUT its atoms?
It is a different object. The nucleus behaves the same (apart from a few exotic cases involving beta decays*). The electrons are present in one case, and not present in the other case, so everything involving electrons is different obviously. Spectroscopy of electron energy levels cannot be done without electrons, for example.
(How can i make quotes here?)
Mark text and click "reply", or use the "reply" or "quote" buttons at the bottom right of a post, or manually use [quote]bla[/quote].

* Two examples:
- Beryllium-7 can only decay via electron capture. Normally there are electrons around to capture, so it is radioactive. Remove all electrons from its environment and it cannot decay any more - it gets stable.
- A neutral dysprosium-163 atom is stable. If you remove all electrons, it can beta decay, where the electron stays in a low energy level. The energy is not sufficient to have the electron escape or occupy a higher energy level, which would be required for a decay of a neutral atom.
 
  • #10
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Thank you all.

Are there any situations where i have to remove the electrons in order to be able to conduct a certain experiment? At collision tests like in Cern electrons are always removed?

Do i have to remove all electrons, if i want to split a nucleus? Or do i have to remove them, if i want to achieve a fusion of 2 or more nuclei?
 
  • #11
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Particle accelerators only work with ionized particles. Adding electrons is possible, but removing them is easier. For high-energy accelerators (including the LHC), typically all electrons are removed to increase the ion charge. That makes acceleration more efficient. This is just a practical consideration - for the particle collisions itself (nucleus/nucleus collisions) the electrons wouldn't matter. You would get some additional electron/nucleus collisions.
Do i have to remove all electrons, if i want to split a nucleus?
No. Uranium in nuclear reactors has its electrons, for example.
Or do i have to remove them, if i want to achieve a fusion of 2 or more nuclei?
You don't have to remove them for fusion either. Heating the matter until it is a plasma and loses electrons is the most practical approach, but it is not the only one, and the reason the electrons are not around has nothing to do with fusion.
 
  • #12
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I like this forum, i always get answers, thank you :)

Maybe the last question in this topic. If it isn't necessary to remove the electrons in a nuclear reactor, then it is also not necessary to remove them in A-Bombs. Is this correct?
 
  • #13
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They are not removed in nuclear weapons. The electrons just don't matter.
 
  • #14
Khashishi
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The title made me think of a proton and antiproton in some kind of bound state. Apparently, it's called protonium https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Protonium
It is more complicated than hydrogen, since the strong force plays a larger role.
 
  • #15
DrClaude
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Maybe the last question in this topic. If it isn't necessary to remove the electrons in a nuclear reactor, then it is also not necessary to remove them in A-Bombs. Is this correct?
If you were to remove the electrons, then matter wouldn't hold together. You can get isolated bare nuclei, but certainly cannot make a material with them.
 
  • #16
Khashishi
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If you could remove the electrons, you wouldn't need a nuclear reaction. The coulomb reaction would be plenty explosive enough.
 
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  • #17
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Well, i would like to try a summary:

Removing the electrons of an atom creates an ion, properties of the nucleus doesn't change. But there are differences between an atom with electrons and the same atom without electrons. Electrons are removed from atoms to achieve a higher charge, which has positive effects on collision tests. It's not necessary to remove eletrons in order to split or fuse atoms.
 

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