How did the atom model change over time?

1 Answer
Oct 11, 2014

The first model of the atom was developed by JJ Thomson in 1904, who thought that atoms were composed purely of negatively charged electrons. This model was known as the 'plum pudding' model.

This theory was then disproved by Ernest Rutherford and the gold foil experiment in 1911, where Rutherford shot alpha particles at gold foil, and noticed that some went through and some bounced back, implying the existence of a positive nucleus.

In 1913, Niels Bohr proposed a model of the atom where the electrons were contained within quantized shells that orbited the nucleus. This was because it was impossible for the cloud of negative electrons proposed by Rutherford to exist, as the negative electrons would be drawn to the positive nucleus, and the atom would collapse in on itself.

In 1926, the Austrian physicist Erwin Schrödinger created a quantum mechanical model of the atom by combining the equations for the behavior of waves with the de Broglie equation to generate a mathematical model for the distribution of electrons in an atom.

However the model used today is closest to the Bohr model of the atom, using the quantized shells to contain the electrons.

De Broglie equation: