Rutherford Scattering
Quantum and Nuclear

Episode 520: Preparation for Rutherford scattering topic

Teaching Guidance for 16-19 IOP TAP

Here you have the opportunity to deepen their understanding of the nuclear model of the atom, making use of ideas about electric fields. 

Main aims of this topic

Rutherford's experiment

Students will:

  • describe Rutherford’s experiment and explain why it leads to the nuclear model of the atom
  • use Coulomb’s law to estimate the size of the nucleus
  • state the approximate sizes of atom and nucleus

Prior knowledge

There is a lot of Physics knowledge that can contribute to this topic: collisions and momentum, Coulomb’s law, and wave-particle duality.

If you have not covered all of these topics already, you will have to modify the suggested approach to take account of this.

Where this leads

Once the idea of the nuclear atom is established, you can go on to look at nuclear structure, particle accelerators, the Standard Model and the whole of particle physics.

This topic also provides a good opportunity to discuss the use of models in physics, including both mechanical and mathematical models.

Rutherford Scattering
can be explained by the Bohr Model
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