# Relative Atomic Radii (Atoms and Ions)

• lafalfa
In summary: Apart from those overall general trends, the radius of atoms is an ill-defined property. There's no need to know the exact numbers, except perhaps as a rough approximation.But then how would I conclude that Cl- is larger than S? I have to be able to conclude this somehow since I have this question for school.Check if one of the "rules" I have listed won't give an answer. Do they have the same number of electrons? Or perhaps do they have the same number of protons in nucleus?
lafalfa
Hi,

How would you determine the relative atomic sizes of a neutral atom and an ion?
I can't figure this out. It can't be that all neutral atoms are always smaller than all ions can it?

For example, how would I determine if Cl- is smaller or larger than S?.
(The answer is that Cl- is larger than S).

Is there a rule that applies to all comparisons of neutral atoms and ions?
For example, how would I determine if Na is smaller or larger than Cl-?

Thank you very much!

The only solid and strict rules here are that for identical number of electrons, radius goes down with increasing charge of nucleus, and for identical charge of nucleus, radius goes up with increasing number of electrons. When both change at the same time and in the same direction result is sometimes difficult to predict.

--

Lol, it's chemistry, of course there isn't a rule that applies to ALL situations. There are however guidelines that you can use to generalize (see Borek's post). You really have to look at the electron configuration of each ion/atom to be sure.

But then how would I conclude that Cl- is larger than S? I have to be able to conclude this somehow since I have this question for school.

Anions are always *much* larger than the neutral atom. (i think the oxide ion is twice the size of an oxygen atom) So, even though S is *slightly* larger than Cl... Cl- is *much* larger than Cl.

That's the best I can do.

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So when asked to order atoms/ions in terms of their size, would I immediately put all the negatively charged ions at one end, all the neutral atoms in the middle, and then all the positively charged ions at the other end, regardless of their relative positions on the periodic table?

Well, I'm sure if you get far enough apart on the table (neutral cesium vs. fluoride ion) that won't always be the case, but mostly, yes.

I think.

Char. Limit said:
Ions are always *much* larger than the neutral atom.

Ions can have positive charge too, you know?

Anyway, original poster, the idea is that you learn the general trends seen on http://boomeria.org/chemlectures/textass2/table10-9.jpg" chart.

Apart from those overall general trends, the radius of atoms is an ill-defined property. There's no need to know the exact numbers, except perhaps as a rough approximation.

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lafalfa said:
But then how would I conclude that Cl- is larger than S? I have to be able to conclude this somehow since I have this question for school.

Check if one of the "rules" I have listed won't give an answer. Do they have the same number of electrons? Or perhaps do they have the same number of protons in nucleus?

Char. Limit said:
Ions are always *much* larger than the neutral atom.

As alxm already suggested - check radius of K+ vs K, or Mg2+ vs Mg.

--
methods

Oops, I'm making mistakes everywhere I go, it seems. Let me fix that to "anions".

## 1. What is relative atomic radius?

Relative atomic radius is a measure of the size of an atom compared to other atoms in a given element. It is determined by the distance between the nucleus of the atom and its outermost electron shell.

## 2. How is relative atomic radius different from atomic radius?

Relative atomic radius takes into account the size of the atom in relation to other atoms in the same element, while atomic radius is a specific measurement of the size of an atom in a vacuum. Relative atomic radius is often used to compare the size of atoms in different elements.

## 3. How does the number of protons and electrons affect relative atomic radius?

The number of protons and electrons in an atom does not directly affect its relative atomic radius. However, the number of electron shells and the strength of the nuclear charge can impact the size of the atom and therefore its relative atomic radius.

## 4. What factors can cause a change in relative atomic radius?

Factors such as the number of electron shells, the strength of the nuclear charge, and the presence of ions or isotopes can all affect the relative atomic radius of an atom. Additionally, the physical state of an atom (solid, liquid, or gas) can also impact its relative atomic radius.

## 5. How is relative atomic radius measured?

Relative atomic radius is typically measured using X-ray crystallography or spectroscopy techniques. These methods involve analyzing the diffraction patterns of X-rays or light as they pass through a sample of the element, and using this information to determine the size of the atom.

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