How to Calculate the Radius of an Atom

How to Calculate the Radius of an Atom
••• Hemera Technologies/PhotoObjects.net/Getty Images

The radius of an atom is described as the distance from its nucleus to its outermost electrons. Although it is impossible to know the exact position of these electrons, a very close approximation of the radius of an atom can still be determined by measuring the distance from its nucleus to that of another atom it is bonded with. In a covalent bond -- formed by shared electrons -- the two atoms are assumed to be the same size, and the distance between the nuclei of the two atoms can be divided in half to find their radius. In the case of ionic bonds, one atom is larger than the other, and the radius of one of the atoms must be known in order to determine the radius of the other.

    Determine what type of bond exists between the two atoms; the radius will be calculated differently depending on whether or it is covalent or ionic.

    Divide the distance between the nuclei of the atoms by two if the bond is covalent. For example, if you know the distance between the nuclei of two covalently bonded atoms is 100 picometers (pm), the radius of each individual atom is 50 pm.

    Subtract the radius of one of the atoms from the total distance between the nuclei if the bond is ionic. For example, if the radius of one of the atoms is 60 pm, and the distance between the nuclei of the two atoms is 160 pm, the radius of the other atom is 100 pm.

Related Articles

Number of Protons in an Uncharged Atom
What Is the Comparison Between Atoms & Molecules?
How to Calculate the Volume of an Atom
How to Convert AMU to Mole
Which Halogen Has the Least Attraction for Electrons?
How to Calculate a Fraction Covalent
The Locations of Protons, Neutrons and Electrons within...
Chemical Bonding Rules
How to Explain Polarity
Definition of Molecular Bonds
How Many Protons Does Calcium Have?
Describe the Formation of Both Positive & Negative...
How to Calculate Force of Attraction Between Ions
How to Determine How Many Dots Are on an Element's...
How to Wire a Battery in Series
How to Convert MG to MEQ
Relationship Between the Atomic Number & the Chemical...
What Is the Difference Between Electronic Geometry...
How to Find the Mass Number of Bromine With 46 Neutrons

Dont Go!

We Have More Great Sciencing Articles!