Iaki
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If the attraction between protons and electrons is strongest closer to the nucleus - why does the innermost orbital only possess the minimal amount of electrons as opposed to having a full shell?
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AbMd
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What has the number of electrons in each shell got to do with the strength of attraction between the nucleus and an individual electron?
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Iaki
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(Original post by AbMd)
What has the number of electrons in each shell got to do with the strength of attraction between the nucleus and an individual electron?
Surely as there is a stronger force present, a higher quantity of electrons would be inclined to gather closer to the proton nucleus - just starting my course so take it easy on me
Last edited by Iaki; 1 month ago
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jack_harrison
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While you're right that electrons closer to the nucleus are attracted more strongly to the nucleus, this only correlates directly to stability in single-electron systems. In multi-electron systems, you must also consider the destabilising effect of repulsion between electrons in close proximity. The net stability is a trade off between these 2 electrostatic effects. Intuitively, only 2 electrons are stable in the 1st shell (very close to the nucleus) as they occupy a very small volume and repel strongly.

This observation can further be explained by quantum mechanics. The solutions of the Schrodinger and Dirac equations for an atom give the nature of the atomic orbitals, their proximity to the nucleus and also the number of electrons allowed in each shell/sub-shell/orbital. The true solution is such that it also gives the lowest possible energy of that atomic system, so having just 2 electrons in the 1st shell is proven by quantum mechanics to be the most stable an atom can be.

The solutions in a broad sense are also based on electrostatic attraction and repulsion but treat electrons and protons as waves instead of particles. So in a hand-wavey kind of way the same explanation applies.
Last edited by jack_harrison; 1 month ago
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scimus63
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you almost answered your own question- orbitals are only permitted to hold a maximum of 2 electrons. There is attraction between the protons and electrons as you say, but also consider the repulsion between the electrons as well. Its a balance between the 2 !

Also remember the Pauli exclusion principle- each electron must have 4 different quantum numbers
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