Is a positive charge attracted to the electrons around atoms?

  • Thread starter k9b4
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Main Question or Discussion Point

An atom has an equal amount of positive and negative charges. But those charges are not all in exactly the same spot. Electrons are closer to other atoms than the protons are. So, would a lone positive charge be attracted towards the electrons in an atom?
 

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  • #2
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Absolutely - a lone proton will induce a dipole in a neutral atom and can bond covalently. Compare the bond energies of adding a proton to a molecule,

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proton_affinity_(data_page)

to the energy of the same covalently bonded molecules,

http://chemwiki.ucdavis.edu/Theoretical_Chemistry/Chemical_Bonding/General_Principles/Bond_Energies

they are of the same order or even higher. So an H+ ion will form a very strong bond with most molecules.
Cool, thanks for your reply. I took chemistry in high school but I never realised that covalent bonds were simply atoms being attracted to each other.
 
  • #4
Orodruin
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In fact, all bonds at atomic and molecular level are caused by electromagnetism. The scale is far too small for gravitational forces to play a role and the strong and weak forces mainly affect processes on the nuclear level.

A good rule of thumb is that if it has an effect on you, is not radioactive, and not gravity - then it is electromagnetism.
 

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