Brain Makeover #6: Atoms are Bound by Electron Glue.
Professor James Trefil (author of Science Matters, Why Science?, and 30 other books on science literacy) identified 18 key science concepts every adult should know to be a science literate. We’re here to reintroduce adults to science, in a fun way! It’s all part of our Brain Makeover project to increase adult science literacy. Here’s concept #4, presented by 76ers Cheerleader Lauren and explained by Professor James Trefil. We’ll post one each week (more or less) and it to the Brain Makeover collection.
Here’s Profession Trefil on Big Idea #6: Atoms are Bound by Electron Glue.
Most of the materials we encounter in our everyday life are compounds, made by putting different combinations of atoms together. The “glue” that holds these molecular together is supplied by the outermost electrons in the atom—chemists call them valence electrons”. There are basically three ways that valence electrons can interact to produce a bind between atoms.
1) One atom can transfer an electron permanently to another. This is called an ‘ionic’ bond.
2) Two atoms can share a pair of electrons—think of the electrons shuttling back and forth between the atoms. This is called a ‘covalent’ bond.
3) Each atom can give up an electron which is then shared by all the atoms in the material. This is called a ‘metallic’ bond.
In addition, bonds can form when the electrons in a neutral atom tend to cluster in one area, given that a negative charge and leaving other areas with a positive charge.