Rutherford Scattering

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Background

In order to find out more about the structure of the atom Ernest Rutherford fired alpha particles at a thin sheet of gold foil. Alpha particles have a positive charge and so does the nucleus of a gold atom, hence they repel each other and the alpha particles are scattered when they pass close by.

            The apparatus Rutherford used looked like this:


The alpha particles produce a tiny spark of light when they hit a fluorescent screen which can then be detected.

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