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Properties of Matter

1. Atomic Structure

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In this mini-lecture, we introduce atomic structure, focusing in particular on: (i) the atomic structure of the hydrogen atom, through which we introduce the proton, neutron, and electron; (ii) isotopes of elements; (iii) a brief interlude on the fundamental particles of nature from the Standard Model; (iv) models of the atom, including the Plum Pudding Model and the Nuclear (or Solar System) Model: (v) Ernest Rutherford’s gold foil experiment that tested the Plum Pudding Model and showed that the Nuclear Model was more accurate; (vi) a demonstration of the gold foil experiment; (vii) the emission spectra of elements, specifically that of hydrogen known as the Balmer series; (viii) a hydrogen lamp that illustrates the Balmer series; (ix) orbits of electrons and how electrons move between energy levels; and (x) atomic subshells.


In this course, Dr Janet Lovett (University of St Andrews) explores properties of matter. Throughout this course, we present 14 demonstrations. In the first mini-lecture, we discuss atomic structure and look specifically at what makes up the elements (protons, neutrons, and electrons), models of the atom, energy levels, and element emission spectra. In the second mini-lecture we explore the discovery of the electron, focusing on a series of demonstrations that illustrate J.J. Thomson’s cathode ray experiment and how electron charge was first determined. The third mini-lecture turns towards nuclear physics, where we discuss nuclide stability, mass and energy, binding energy per nucleon to understand nuclear fusion and fission, and radioactivity. In the fourth mini-lecture, we take a step back from atoms to consider matter as a whole, specifically discussing the phases of matter, and how pressure and temperature affect these phases. In the fifth mini-lecture, we explore the relationships between pressure, volume, temperature, and number of particles before introducing the ideal gas law. In the sixth mini-lecture, we look at the forces between particles and how they interact in a substance.


Janet Lovett is a Lecturer in the School of Physics and Astronomy at the University of St Andrews. Her primary research interest is in measuring nanometre distances for structural biology using Electron Paramagnetic Resonance (EPR) spectroscopy. Dr Lovett teaches a first-year ‘Properties of Matter’ course at the University in addition to other courses such as magnetic resonance.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Lovett, J. (2022, January 12). Properties of Matter - Atomic Structure [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Lovett, J. "Properties of Matter – Atomic Structure." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 12 Jan 2022,

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