In chemistry and physics, the atomic number (also known as the proton number) is the number of protons found in the nucleus of an atom and therefore identical to the charge number of the nucleus. It is conventionally represented by the symbol Z. The atomic number uniquely identifies a chemical element. In an atom of neutral charge, the atomic number is also equal to the number of electrons.
The atomic number, Z, should not be confused with the mass number, A, which is the number of nucleons, the total number of protons and neutrons in the nucleus of an atom. The number of neutrons, N, is known as the neutron number of the atom; thus, A = Z + N (these quantities are always whole numbers). Since protons and neutrons have approximately the same mass (and the mass of the electrons is negligible for many purposes), and the mass defect of nucleon binding is always small compared to the nucleon mass, the atomic mass of any atom, when expressed in unified atomic mass units (making a quantity called the "relative isotopic mass,") is roughly (to within 1%) equal to the whole number A.
Atomic physics is the field of physics that studies atoms as an isolated system of electrons and an atomic nucleus. It is primarily concerned with the arrangement of electrons around the nucleus and the processes by which these arrangements change. This includes ions as well as neutral atoms and, unless otherwise stated, for the purposes of this discussion it should be assumed that the term atom includes ions.
The term atomic physics is often associated with nuclear power and nuclear bombs, due to the synonymous use of atomic and nuclear in standard English. However, physicists distinguish between atomic physics — which deals with the atom as a system consisting of a nucleus and electrons — and nuclear physics, which considers atomic nuclei alone.
Quantum chemistry is a branch of chemistry whose primary focus is the application of quantum mechanics in physical models and experiments of chemical systems. It involves heavy interplay of experimental and theoretical methods:
In these ways, quantum chemists investigate chemical phenomena.
Molecular physics is the study of the physical properties of molecules, the chemical bonds between atoms as well as the molecular dynamics. Its most important experimental techniques are the various types of spectroscopy; scattering is also used. The field is closely related to atomic physics and overlaps greatly with theoretical chemistry, physical chemistry and chemical physics.
Additionally to the electronic excitation states which are known from atoms, molecules are able to rotate and to vibrate. These rotations and vibrations are quantized, there are discrete energy levels. The smallest energy differences exist between different rotational states, therefore pure rotational spectra are in the far infrared region (about 30 - 150 µm wavelength) of the electromagnetic spectrum. Vibrational spectra are in the near infrared (about 1 - 5 µm) and spectra resulting from electronic transitions are mostly in the visible and ultraviolet regions. From measuring rotational and vibrational spectra properties of molecules like the distance between the nuclei can be calculated.
A chemical property is any of a material's properties that becomes evident during a chemical reaction; that is, any quality that can be established only by changing a substance's chemical identity. Simply speaking, chemical properties cannot be determined just by viewing or touching the substance; the substance's internal structure must be affected for its chemical properties to be investigated. However a catalytic property would also be a chemical property.
Chemical properties can be contrasted with physical properties, which can be discerned without changing the substance's structure. However, for many properties within the scope of physical chemistry, and other disciplines at the boundary between chemistry and physics, the distinction may be a matter of researcher's perspective. Material properties, both physical and chemical, can be viewed as supervenient; i.e., secondary to the underlying reality. Several layers of superveniency]clarification needed[ are possible.
The ionization energy of an atom or molecule describes the amount of energy required to remove an electron from the atom or molecule in the gaseous state.
The term ionization potential has been used in the past but is not recommended.
A quantum mechanical system or particle that is bound—that is, confined spatially—can only take on certain discrete values of energy. This contrasts with classical particles, which can have any energy. These discrete values are called energy levels. The term is commonly used for the energy levels of electrons in atoms or molecules, which are bound by the electric field of the nucleus, but can also refer to energy levels of nuclei or vibrational or rotational energy levels in molecules. The energy spectrum of a system with such discrete energy levels is said to be quantized.
If the potential energy is set to zero at infinite distance from the atomic nucleus or molecule, the usual convention, then bound electron states have negative potential energy.
In chemistry, periodic trends are the tendencies of certain elemental characteristics to increase or decrease as one progresses along a row or column of the periodic table of elements.
All periodic trends of the chemicals are based on Coulomb's law . As distance from the protons in the nucleus to the valence electrons increases values associated with attributes such as electron affinity, ionization energy, and electronegativity decrease.
Tunnel ionization is a process in which electrons in an atom (or a molecule) pass through the potential barrier and escape from the atom (or molecule). In an intense electric field, the potential barrier of an atom (molecule) is distorted drastically. Therefore, the length of the barrier that electrons have to pass decreases and electrons can escape from the atom (molecule) easily. Tunneling Ionization is a QM phenomenon; a non-zero probability event for observing a particle escaping from the deformed Coulomb potential barrier, obviously this phenomenon is forbidden by classical laws, as in the classical picture an electron does not have sufficient energy to escape.
When the atom is in an external DC field, the Coulomb potential barrier is lowered and the electron can tunnel through the barrier. In the case of an alternating electric field, the direction of the electric field reverses after the half period of the field. The ionized electron may come back to its parent ion. The electron may recombine with the nucleus (nuclei) and its kinetic energy is released as light (high harmonic generation). If the recombination does not occur, further ionization may proceed by collision between high-energy electrons and a parent atom (molecule). This process is known as non-sequential ionization.