Carbon is small and has four valence electrons; these factors combine into a unique structure that allows it to easily make a chain of carbon atoms. It creates covalent bonds — the strongest bonds between atoms.Continue Reading
A covalent bond is one where atoms share electrons to form a bond. This type of bond is stronger than an ionic bond where electrons are donated to another atom. Valence electrons are carried by an atom in the outer shell, which can be shared with another atom.
Because of carbon's four valence electrons, it can even bond with itself two or three times. These bonds are all covalent bonds, creating a strong chain of atoms. Because each bond has eight valence electrons, it also fulfills the octet rule, which establishes that a molecule containing certain elements (such as carbon or nitrogen) is more stable if it has eight valence electrons.
Similarly, carbon also bonds well with other atoms. In fact, scientists know of at least 10 million compounds that include carbon, according to the Jefferson Lab. The study of these compounds is what is known as organic chemistry. In fact, carbon is the element found with the most frequency in living things on Earth, which is why scientists say life is carbon based. Carbon is essential for life on Earth.Learn more about Atoms & Molecules
Citric acid is a covalent, or molecular, compound because it contains single and double covalent bonds formed by the sharing of pairs of electrons between different atoms. The molecular formula of citric acid is C6H8O7.Full Answer >
In most atoms, electrons occupy a zone exterior to the nucleus. Though electrons are often represented as particles in discreet orbits around the nucleus, they cannot be said to occupy a specific point in space. Rather, their position can be described as a wave function.Full Answer >
The bonds that hold the atoms in metals together are often described as being built upon metal ions that are floating in a sea of electrons. This is because the electrons in the outer shells, or valence shells, of metals are loosely held. The valence electrons are free to move from one atom to another.Full Answer >
Ernest Rutherford's famed Gold Foil Experiment of 1909 demonstrated that atoms were made up of a charged nucleus orbited by electrons. He published his findings in 1911 with a description of what he called the Rutherford model of the atom. While electrons had been described prior to this experiment, Rutherford was the first person to describe the existence of a small, charged atomic nucleus.Full Answer >