# Structure of an atom

## Main Question or Discussion Point

How does quantum physics describe the structure of an atom? Is it possible to take a basic measurement an atom such as the number of proton/neutrons, and calculate the rest of the dimensions/ and properties of that particular atom?

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malawi_glenn
Homework Helper
How do you define structure and dimensions?

Not only structure but the physical properties of elements as well... colors, boiling point, mass, etc. It seems mother nature knows how to calculate all this from basically, the number of nucleons, nucleon mass, and the physical laws of that govern the universe. I'm curious if physicists have determined the math for this fact, yet.

By structure, I was thinking a measurable distance/length of nucleus, electron "smears" / orbitals, etc.

Thanks.

malawi_glenn
Homework Helper
1. Single atoms done have colour nor boiling point. Try to define the colour and boiling point of an atom ;-)

If you want to learn how atoms and ions biuld up SOLIDS and LIQIUDS which have those criteria, then it is Condensate matter physics you are dealing with. And that is a rigor physical science which is well understood.

2. Atoms nor nuclei have definite size. One can only measure r.m.s radius of the wave functions by performing scattering experiments by probing the atoms with electrons, muons, neutrons etc. This also something that is well understood.

Now what do you want to learn more about? What a scattering experiment is? Just tell us. Also tell us your background, have you done quantum mechanics in college / university yet?

Scattering experiments is probably a good start for what I'm interested in. Where's a good place to learn about this, as well as results from scattering experiments? My quantum physics knowledge is pretty much ground level, and I don't have a formal (physics) education. But I'm interested in learning more. Thanks.

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malawi_glenn
Homework Helper
Here are some good starting points:

http://www3.tsl.uu.se/thep/courses/QM/scattering-overview.pdf [Broken]

http://farside.ph.utexas.edu/teaching/qmech/lectures/node130.html

This is the theory, experiment, you have a source of matter waves (electrons, photons, neutrons) - let them hit a target and detect their reflection pattern.

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