1. About Rutherford
2. Rutherford model
3. Rutherford gold foil experiment
4. Rutherford gold foil experiment result
5. Rutherford gold foil experiment conclusion
6. Rutherford’s Model of the Atom: Planetary
Model (w/o orbits)
7. The Nucleus
8. Video related to gold foil experiment
9. History of Atom
1st Baron Rutherford of Nelson (30
August 1871 – 19 October 1937) was a New Zealand-born
British chemist and physicist who became known as the
father of nuclear physics. He is considered the greatest
experimentalist since Michael Faraday (1791–1867).
In early work he discovered the concept of radioactive half-
life, proved that radioactivity involved the transmutation of
one chemical element to another, and also differentiated and
named alpha and beta radiation. This work was done
at McGill University in Canada. It is the basis for the Nobel
Prize in Chemistry he was awarded in 1908 "for his
investigations into the disintegration of the elements, and the
chemistry of radioactive substances“.
The Rutherford model is a model of
the atom devised by Ernest Rutherford.
Rutherford directed the famous Geiger-Marsden
experiment in 1909 which suggested, upon Rutherford's
1911 analysis, that the so-called "plum pudding model"
of J. J. Thomson of the atom was incorrect. Rutherford's
new model for the atom, based on the experimental
results, contained the new features of a relatively high
central charge concentrated into a very small volume in
comparison to the rest of the atom and with this central
volume also containing the bulk of the atomic mass of
the atom. This region would be named the "nucleus" of
the atom in later years.
1) A narrow beam of alpha particles was
aimed at a thin sheet of gold foil
2) A zinc sulfide-coated screen
surrounding the gold foil produced a
flash of light when struck by an alpha
particle (radioactive materials expose
3) By noting where the flashes occurred,
the scientists could determine if the
atoms in the gold foil deflected the
alpha particles Index
Most of the particles went straight through the gold foil
Conclusion: The atom is made up of mostly empty space
Several particles were deflected straight back toward the
Conclusion: There is a massive, densely packed area within an atom
(this is the discovery of the nucleus)
Rutherford likened this surprising result to firing a large artillery
shell at a sheet of paper and the shell coming back at the cannon!
A few particles were deflected at large angles.
Conclusion: The nucleus must be positive because the positive
alpha particles are being deflected from a positive center (like
NOTE: Neutrons were not discovered until 1932! Rutherford
discovered the nucleus – not protons and neutrons!
• In 1911, Ernest Rutherford (1871-1937) began to study
how positively charged alpha particles (radioactive
helium nuclei) interacted with solid matter.
• With a small group of scientists (most notably, Hans
Geiger, of the Geiger Counter fame), Rutherford
conducted an experiment to see if alpha particles would
be deflected as they passed through a thin gold foil (like
Rutherford’s new evidence allowed him to propose a more
detailed model with a central nucleus.
He suggested that the positive charge was all in a central
nucleus. With this holding the electrons in place by electrical
However, this was not the end of the story.