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I Why is there a space between two particles of a dipole

  1. Apr 17, 2016 #1
    If you consider an electric dipole, why is it that there is any space between the two particles at all? If both particles of opposite sign attract to each other with equal magnitude, shouldn't they just stick together?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 17, 2016 #2
    If you are talking about a macroscopic dipole, you just stick two opposite charges to the ends of a plastic rod and you have a dipole. If you are talking about microscopic dipoles at the molecular level, sch as in a water molecule, The formation of opposite charges is a much more complicated affair. You should look up the the relative affinity to electrons of the oxygen atom and the hydrogen atom.
     
  4. Apr 17, 2016 #3
    I am referring to microscopic dipoles. I know from chemistry what electron affinity is, and that Oxygen has a higher electron affinity than Hydrogen. So, the particles of the dipole would be oxygen and hydrogen respectively? But then we are considering atoms of different elements as particles of our dipole. Is that the case?
     
  5. Apr 17, 2016 #4

    Drakkith

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    Staff: Mentor

    If separate a proton and an electron and then let them come together under their mutual attraction, you will have a hydrogen atom, which is perfectly neutral and not a dipole anymore.
     
  6. Apr 17, 2016 #5
    This is what I am referring to. How is it possible for dipoles to exist at the microscopic level, without them simply becoming a hydrogen atom?
     
  7. Apr 17, 2016 #6

    Drakkith

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    I believe Chandra in post #2 touched on that. Molecules behave differently depending on which elements they are composed of. The basic idea is that when two non-identical atoms bond together, their electrons may or may not be shared equally between each other, which can lead to a dipole or higher configuration.
     
  8. Apr 17, 2016 #7
    Thank you, that makes sense. I was trying to imagine the particles in the dipole as protons and electrons, being the smallest postive and negative charges I could think of. I had to let go of that idea for this to make sense. Thanks again.
     
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