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# What is an electron cloud model?

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The electron cloud model is a theory of the atom that comports with the modern understanding of quantum mechanics. The model dispenses with the classical "orbiting electrons" depiction and envisions electrons as holding indeterminate positions in a diffuse cloud around the nucleus of the atom.

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Classical atomic physics described the atom as consisting of a nucleus, which consisted of protons and neutrons, surrounded by electrons, which were pictured as discrete particles with set orbits almost like the orbits of planets in a solar system. This model was falsified by the predictions of quantum theory, which offers an alternate vision of electrons as surrounding the nucleus in a diffuse cloud of probable positions.

The uncertainty principle prevents simultaneous knowledge of an electron's position and energy level. For each permissible energy level, the electron has a range of positions in which it could exist, and for every position it could be in, a range of energy levels is possible.

Factored together, these potential states form a cloud around the atom. The cloud is in some ways a mathematical abstraction, but the abstraction has a physical reality, as the electron clouds of neighboring atoms do not normally overlap, though the potential states of electrons in a single atom form a single, uniform cloud.

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## Related Questions

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Quantum numbers are used to describe the energy and shape of an electron orbital within an atom. These numbers are represented by the letters n, l, m and s. The energy level quantum number, represented by the letter n, represents the energy of the electron within the orbital. This number can be equal to (1,2,3,4...). The higher the number, the further away the orbital is from the nucleus.

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A negatively charged particle within an atom is called an electron. Electrons were discovered in 1897 by a British scientist named J.J. Thomson.

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The three particles of the atom are the proton, neutron and electron. The proton and neutron both reside in the nucleus of the atom and are positively charged and neutral, respectively. The electron is outside the nucleus and has a negative charge.