How does electric force affect an atom?

1 Answer
Dec 19, 2014

An atom has a central nucleus which contains almost all the mass of the atom surrounded by a cloud of electrons . The atomic nucleus contains two kinds of particles called protons and neutrons. Of these three particles electrons are negatively charged, the protons are positively charged and neutrons are charge neutral. The magnitude of the charges on protons and electrons are the same, the fundamental unit of charge #e#. Only the electrons and protons interact by means of electrostatic force. Neutrons, being charge neutral, are not affected by the electrostatic force. There are two ways in which electrostatic force affect an atom:

  1. Electrostatic force binds the negatively charged electrons to the positively charged atomic nucleus.
  2. The nucleons are bound to each other by means of Strong Nuclear Force that is more than 100 times stronger than the electrostatic force. But as the number of protons inside a nucleus increases the electrostatic repulsion between protons increase reducing the binding energy. Thus the electrostatic force determines the stability of a nuclear configuration (number of protons and neutrons).