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Cover Chemistry for the Biosciences

Atoms: the foundations of life  

This chapter discusses atoms and their components, looking at protons, electrons, and neutrons. It begins by defining chemical elements, and studies the periodic table, which displays all the known chemical elements in order of ascending atomic number. Periodicity is the gradual change in chemical property from element to element as one moves across a period, and the similarity of chemical and physical properties exhibited by elements within the same group. The chapter then explores atomic composition and structure, distinguishing between the Bohr model and the quantum mechanical model of atomic structure. The chapter discusses ions, which are atoms that have either gained or lost one or more electrons, and the ionization energy, which describes the amount of energy required to remove an electron from an atom. It also explains how isotopes are atoms of the same element that contain different numbers of neutrons. Finally, the chapter considers the electronic configuration of atoms, valence shells and valence electrons, and electron excitation.