What keeps electrons attracted to the nucleus

Why don't the electrons fuse with the atomic nucleus?

The uncertainty principle and the Pauli principle ensure that the electron does not fuse with the nucleus. The uncertainty principle states that the mean speed of an electron increases the smaller the area in which the electron is located. It therefore costs energy to keep an electron in the nucleus. The orbitals are common areas in which the energy of the overall system is optimized. The Pauli principle also excludes two electrons from assuming the same state. This ensures that atoms with many electrons are larger and that not all electrons in the s orbital can be directly at the nucleus.

A union of electron and proton is not possible because the number of leptons and baryons are preserved in nature. If a proton were to merge with an electron, a neutron and a neutrino would have to be created. The former to maintain the number of baryons, the latter to maintain the lepton number. Such electron capture occurs in large atoms, but it costs energy because a neutron is heavier than a proton and electron combined.

Ultimately, of course, one cannot say why these principles exist, but in my opinion it is a great achievement that one can describe these subatomic processes with just a few principles.

© 1999-2020 Joachim Schulz - Only real on www.Quantenwelt.de

Last change: 02/26/2003