AQA GCSE Physics

Revision Notes

4.1.7 Rutherford Scattering

Rutherford Scattering

Alpha Scattering

  • In 1909 a group of scientists were investigating the Plum Pudding model
    • Physicist, Ernest Rutherford was instructing two of his students, Hans Geiger and Ernest Marsden to carry out the experiment
  • They were directing a beam of alpha particles (He2+ ions) at a thin gold foil
  • They expected the alpha particles to travel through the gold foil, and maybe change direction a small amount
  • Instead, they discovered that :
    • Most of the alpha particles passed straight through the foil
    • Some of the alpha particles changed direction but continued through the foil
    • A few of the alpha particles bounced back off the gold foil
  • The bouncing back could not be explained by the Plum Pudding model, so a new model had to be created

rutherford-scattering, IGCSE & GCSE Physics revision notes

When alpha particles are fired at thin gold foil, most of them go straight through, some are deflected and a very small number bounce straight back

The Nuclear Model

  • Ernest Rutherford made different conclusions from the findings of the experiment
  • The table below describes the findings and conclusions of A, B and C from the image above:

Alpha Scattering Findings and Conclusions Table

Rutherford conclusions, downloadable IGCSE & GCSE Physics revision notes

  • Rutherford proposed the nuclear model of the atom
  • In the nuclear model:
    • Nearly all of the mass of the atom is concentrated in the centre of the atom (in the nucleus)
    • The nucleus is positively charged
    • Negatively charged electrons orbit the nucleus at a distance
  • Rutherford’s nuclear model replaced the Plum Pudding model
    • The nuclear model could explain experimental observations better than the Plum Pudding model

Nuclear model, downloadable IGCSE & GCSE Physics revision notes

The Nuclear model replaced the Plum Pudding model as it could better explain the observations of Rutherford’s Scattering Experiment

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