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Relation Between Protons and Properties.

  1. Sep 11, 2010 #1
    How does a difference in the number of protons in an element lead to such a difference in the properties (color, texture, form, etc.) of elements? I.E Gold and Mercury. This question has been driving me crazy and I would really appreciate any answers. Thank You.
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 11, 2010 #2
    Here's a sample crude line of thought.

    1. The number of protons dictate the number of electrons.

    2. The number of electrons, along with shroedinger's equation and the exclusion principle (Quantum Mechanics), dictate the geometry of the electron shells.

    3. In gold 79, the odd number suggests there is a shell that is not filled, so the nucleus can better interact through it and make bonds with other atoms.

    4. In mercury 80, the number is even, and it so happens that its particular shells better hide the nucleus from exterior atoms. Bonds are thus much weaker than with gold. In the case of mercury, so weak that it's liquid (in Xenon, so weak that it's gas).

    Another line of thought :

    The shells dictate the atomic radius, which largely defines crystal structure, which defines the energy levels, which define which colors can be absorbed or emitted.

    The shape of electron orbitals are described by quantum mechanics, and how these orbitals define macroscopic properties is the subject of theoretical chemistry.
  4. Sep 11, 2010 #3
    its the electrons that determine the chemical properties
  5. Sep 11, 2010 #4
    Your awesome thanks a bunch.
  6. Sep 11, 2010 #5
    yea i see that now.
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