What Determines the Shape of an Atom?

In summary, the conversation discusses the shapes of spdf orbitals and how they interact to form different bonds. The speaker mentions that this is different from the spherical atoms they were taught about in primary school. They also bring up conflicting ideas about the shape of atoms, with some photographs showing them as spherical. The response mentions that the shape of an atom depends on the number of electrons and energy levels, and provides a picture of various orbital shapes for one electron.
  • #1
hyurnat4
22
0
This isn't exactly homework, but I'm still in high-school and I feel guilty posting in the big guys' forums.

I've recently learned about the shapes of spdf orbitals and the way they interact to form different bonds. This is completely different to the nice spherical atoms we were shown back in primary.

However, I recall seeing several photographs of atoms taken through a microscrope, and they were most definitely spherical. Can someone reconcile these conflicting ideas? What shape is an atom?
 
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  • #2

1. Why are atoms spherical?

Atoms are spherical because of the way their electrons are arranged. Electrons are negatively charged particles that orbit the positively charged nucleus of an atom. Due to the attraction between opposite charges, the electrons arrange themselves in a way that minimizes their energy, resulting in a spherical shape.

2. Is every atom perfectly spherical?

No, not all atoms are perfectly spherical. The degree of sphericity can vary depending on the type of atom and its electron configuration. For example, atoms with a higher number of electrons may have a more distorted spherical shape due to the repulsion between electrons.

3. Can atoms have different shapes?

Yes, some atoms can have different shapes depending on their electron arrangement. For example, atoms with a d-orbital electron configuration, such as transition metals, can have a more complex shape compared to s-orbital atoms, which are typically spherical.

4. How do scientists know that atoms are spherical?

Scientists have performed experiments such as scattering experiments and electron microscopy to study the structure of atoms. These experiments have provided evidence that atoms have a spherical shape, and further studies have confirmed this observation.

5. Are there any exceptions to the spherical shape of atoms?

Yes, there are some exceptions to the spherical shape of atoms. For example, certain molecules, such as carbon dioxide, have a linear shape due to the arrangement of their atoms. Additionally, some atoms can have a distorted spherical shape due to the presence of lone pairs of electrons.

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