Scale: 10-11 meters = 10 pm = 10 picometers

The Inner Electron Cloud

This image represents the cloud of charge of the two inner electrons of the carbon atom. As in the previous picture, individual electrons cannot be resolved. Essentially, we are displaying the probability of finding an electron in this cloud of charge. The inner shell of electrons, the p shell, can contain at most two electrons. The closer electrons are to the nucleus, the tighter they are held and the higher the energy required to remove them from the atom. Therefore, the p shell electrons of carbon do not participate in molecular bonding.

The nucleus of the carbon atom is one thousand times smaller than the inner shell of electrons. At this scale, the nucleus is smaller than a single pixel. If the whole carbon atom (the previous image) were 100 meters in diameter, the nucleus would be 1 mm in diameter -- 10 000 times smaller. Atoms, the stuff that everything is made from, are mostly empty space!

Copyright © 2016 by Bruce Bryson