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Rutherford’s Scattering Experiment

To understand the distribution of positive and negative electrical charge inside the atom, scientists carried out experiments in which charged particles were shot through thin foils of metals like platinum and gold. The charged particles used were the &perp5; (alpha) particles having mass four times that of a hydrogen atom and positive charge twice the magnitude of the charge on an electron.

A thin foil of metal was expected to contain a few layers of atoms. The motion of charged particles incident on the foil was expected to get influenced in different ways depending upon distribution of positive and negative charges and mass within the atoms. On the basis of Thomson's model of atom, it was speculated that, on passing through the metal foil, the charged particles would get deflected through a small angle.

                                                       E. Rutherford

Rutherford's Scattering Experiment

1. Most of the space inside the atom is hollow or empty which allows the α particles to pass straight through without being deflected.

2. There is some positive centre present in the atom which deflects or repels the α -particles (like charges repel each other). This positively charged heavy body in the centre is known as the nucleus.

3. The total volume occupied by a nucleus is very small as compared to the total volume of the atom as very few α particles are repelled or deflected by a wider angle.

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