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How do you draw a model of an atom?

  1. May 2, 2004 #1
    if you had a lithium ion, magnesium atom, iron III ion..
    how do you draw it?

    oh and what is the difference between an atom and an ion when drawing..?

    thank you.
  2. jcsd
  3. May 2, 2004 #2


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    Science Advisor

    Drawing is difficult, since there doesn't seem to be any good way of drawing electrons.

    The difference between ions and atoms is in the number of electrons. Atoms have enough electrons to exactly balance the positive charge of the nucleus. Ions may have more less, thus being charged.
  4. Jul 1, 2004 #3
    when drawing the structure, you can use Lewis diagrams or you can use Bhor/Rutherford diagrams. The Lewis diagrams utalize the valence electrons. You put the name of the element, or compound, and draw the bonds, then draw the valence electrons, as little dots. If the structure is an ion, you put big square brackets around the diagram and place a supersript - or + on the top right corner, depending on the charge of the ion. If I were you, use this way to draw, the Bhor/Rutherford way is the Grade 9 method.
  5. Jul 1, 2004 #4
    Another way to "draw" the atom would be an orbital energy level diagram.

    Or! you could get fancy and get a computer cluster to solve Schrodinger eq. for your atom, but then that usually only uses hydrogenic orbitals as an approximation. If you want a more accurate "picture" you could turn on relativistic effects. But then, your "drawing" would be nothing more than a 3D probability density plot.
  6. Jul 3, 2004 #5
    Quite simple. But you would need a fairly large piece of paper. The most real theory says it looks like a dot (nucleus) surrounded by bubbles of various forms (electrons spread alond their orbits) that cover the dot in layers.
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