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Can you strip away electrons completely from atoms?

  1. Jan 26, 2013 #1
    This is an arbitrary question

    Is it possible that regardless of whatever atom is present, a process is used to remove all electrons in the atoms that comprise a specific substance?

    For example if I had say what I will arbitrarily call "An electron boiler" and I just dump in any house hold items or dirt or garbage and this machine through this process just removes electrons from the atoms... is that even possible? What would happen?

    I also wanted to know what an electron means in terms of electricity. MeV and such. You can't just thing of an atom as a battery can you?

    You wouldn't think of electricity as "that's 1 electron right there!"
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 26, 2013 #2

    sophiecentaur

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    Removing an electron from an atom requires energy. The outer electrons require less energy than the inner electrons. The energy for removing outer electrons is in the order of a very few eV and the energy for removing the inner electrons of a large atom will be many tens of kV. The easiest way for this would probably be with a source of high energy electrons from an accelerator.
    Far from being a "battery" (which supplies energy), the atom needs energy put in for it to release its electrons.
    The term "electricity" is not really defined. It just refers to the general topic of electromagnetism - usually involving Voltages, Currents and power.
     
  4. Jan 26, 2013 #3
    So what happens when an atom is void or have been stripped away of its electrons? Does it break apart?

    I see so when you do equations which find the "rest mass" of something

    Is there actually anyway to extract energy like that? I am of course referring to the execution of the equation E=mc^2 where m would be the mass of the object you would be using for the rest energy

    If electrons are waves/packets can they be thought of as "waves" in the sense that tiny antennas could receive their power?
     
  5. Jan 26, 2013 #4

    sophiecentaur

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    These are different questions. Can we deal with one at a time, please? (or we won't get anywhere)
     
  6. Jan 26, 2013 #5
    Well this is just random general interest on my part

    It isn't homework or something so anyone's answer relevant as it may be, doesn't really matter in the sense that anyone who answers does not have to take great care in the details. Simple concept answers I guess is what I was looking for.
     
  7. Jan 26, 2013 #6

    ZapperZ

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    Again, stick to one question at a time. It is our experience that a thread having more than one different question will end up being very jumbled up.

    A bare atom is not very unusual, in principle. After all, the most popular form of a fusion reactor requires bare nucleus of various forms of hydrogen isotopes to collide.

    Zz.
     
  8. Jan 26, 2013 #7

    Nugatory

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    Google for the phrase "plasma" - the wikipedia article is OK.
     
  9. Jan 26, 2013 #8

    rollingstein

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    How about an H+ ion? Isn't that locally stripped of e-? I mean, they are still around somewhere pretty close, but still.
     
  10. Jan 26, 2013 #9

    sophiecentaur

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    To be defined as a plasma, the atoms only need to be singly ionised. The OP is asking about total ionisation, which can involve considerably higher energies / temperatures.
     
  11. Jan 26, 2013 #10

    davenn

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    The only common atom nucleus I can think of that is devoid of electrons is an Alpha Particle which id a Helium nucleus ( 2 x protons and 2 x neutrons)

    Dave
     
  12. Jan 26, 2013 #11

    rollingstein

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    What about a Hydrogen plasma? There any ionization is total?
     
  13. Jan 27, 2013 #12

    sophiecentaur

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    Note the words "can involve".
    A single proton is less 'electron hungry' than a totally ionised heavy element nucleus. So it requires progressively more energy as the nuclei get bigger.
     
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