Learning Objectives

Describe Rutherford’s yellow foil experiment.Describe the nuclear design of the atom.

You are watching: What did rutherford's gold foil experiment tell about the atom

How much space do bricks occupy?

As we look at the world about us, it looks pretty solid. Us hit a wall with ours hand and also the hand stop – that does no (normally) go v the wall. Us think of matter as occupying space. But there is a lot of empty room in matter. In fact, many of the issue is north space.

The yellow Foil Experiment

In 1911, Rutherford and also coworkers Hans Geiger and also Ernest Marsden initiated a collection of groundbreaking experiments the would totally change the embraced model that the atom. Castle bombarded really thin sheets of gold foil with rapid moving alpha particles. Alpha particles, a form of herbal radioactive particle, space positively fee particles through a mass about four times that of a hydrogen atom.

Figure 1. (A) The experimental setup because that Rutherford’s gold foil experiment: A radioactive facet that emitted alpha particles to be directed towards a slim sheet of gold foil that was surrounded by a screen which would permit detection that the deflected particles. (B) according to the plum pudding design (top) every one of the alpha corpuscle should have actually passed with the yellow foil with tiny or no deflection. Rutherford found that a tiny percentage that alpha particles to be deflected at large angles, which might be explained by one atom with a very small, dense, positively-charged nucleus in ~ its center (bottom).

According to the accepted atomic model, in i beg your pardon an atom’s mass and charge space uniformly spread throughout the atom, the scientists expected that all of the alpha particles would pass with the yellow foil with only a slight deflection or none in ~ all. Surprisingly, while most of the alpha corpuscle were indeed undeflected, a very tiny percentage (about 1 in 8000 particles) bounced off the yellow foil in ~ very huge angles. Some were also redirected back toward the source. No front knowledge had actually prepared them because that this discovery. In a well known quote, Rutherford exclaimed the it to be “as if you had fired a 15-inch covering at a piece of tissue record and that came back and fight you.”

Rutherford necessary to come up with an entirely brand-new model the the atom in order to explain his results. Due to the fact that the vast majority of the alpha particles had passed v the gold, the reasoned that many of the atom was empty space. In contrast, the particles the were extremely deflected must have actually experienced a tremendously powerful force in ~ the atom. He concluded that all of the positive charge and the bulk of the mass of the atom need to be focused in a very small space in the atom’s interior, which he called the nucleus. The cell nucleus is the tiny, dense, central core the the atom and is composed of protons and neutrons.

Rutherford’s atomic model became known as the atom model. In the nuclear atom, the protons and neutrons, which consist of nearly every one of the massive of the atom, are situated in the nucleus in ~ the facility of the atom. The electrons space distributed about the nucleus and also occupy most of the volume that the atom. The is worth emphasizing just how tiny the nucleus is contrasted to the rest of the atom. If we can blow increase an atom to it is in the size of a big professional football stadium, the nucleus would be about the dimension of a marble.

Rutherford’s version proved come be vital step towards a full understanding that the atom. However, it did not fully address the nature the the electrons and also the way in which they occupied the vast an are around the nucleus. It to be not till some years later that a complete understanding that the electron was achieved. This confirmed to be the crucial to knowledge the chemical properties the elements.

Watch a video that defines the gold foil experiment:


Bombardment of yellow foil v alpha particles showed that some particles to be deflected.The nuclear design of the atom is composed of a little and thick positively charged interior surrounded by a cloud the electrons.


Use the link below to prize the complying with questions:


How thick was the gold foil?What alpha resource did that use?How many were deflected right back?What was one drawback of Rutherford’s theory?


When go Rutherford and coworkers carry out your research?What is an alpha particle?How walk Rutherford explain the observation that many alpha corpuscle went straight through the gold foil?What did that say about the particles that were deflected?Describe Rutherford’s nuclear model.
alpha particle: A type of organic radioactive particle, room positively charged particles with a mass about four times the of a hydrogen atom.

See more: What Is The Square Root Of 61 ? Square Root Of 61

atom model: The nuclear model of the atom is composed of a tiny and dense positively charged inner surrounded by a cloud of electrons.