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What is the quantum mechanical model?

Also known as the quantum model, the quantum mechanical model is a theoretical framework of physics that makes it possible to describe the dynamics of the atom and subatomic particles more precisely than previous models, the planetary model of the atom and Bohr’s atomic model. The quantum mechanical model is based on the principles of quantum mechanics.

What is quantum mechanics?

Quantum mechanics is a branch of physics that deals with the study of nature at its smallest scales: the atomic and subatomic levels, as well as their interactions with each other and with the environment. Its name stems from the fact that, according to its precepts, all forms of energy are released in units or packages called quanta. Quanta can be fermions or bosons.

Quantum mechanics does not propose deterministic, predictive models like the most classical and ancient branches of physics; instead, it introduces the concepts of indeterminacy and probability. Its calculations are probabilistic and statistical, and they seek to predict the precise probability of events or outcomes analytically.

What is a quantum atom?

A quantum mechanical atom (or quantum-mechanical) is the atom model that illustrates the principles of quantum mechanics, and it is based on the postulates of Erwin Schrödinger, which state that electrons can be treated as waves of matter.

According to Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle, it is not possible to know both the energy and the position of an electron inside the atom. The Schrödinger equation, Ĥψ=Eψ , gives rise to a set of wave functions () that are useful for studying the atom and its elements. The square of the wave function (2) represents the probability of finding an electron in a region of the atom. The region of an atom where there is a probability that the electron will be found 90% of the time is known as an atomic orbital.

The quantum mechanical model of the atom stands in opposition to:

  • The planetary model, proposed by Ernst Rutherford in 1911, described the atom as a planetary system with a central nucleus around which the electrons would revolve.
  • Bohr’s atomic model, proposed by Niels Bohr in 1913, is halfway between classical and quantum physics. It was the first model to suggest that electrons can only occupy stable orbits.

What applications does the quantum mechanical model of the atom have?

The quantum mechanical model of the atom has been essential for the research and development of quantum technologies in the fields of chemistry, optics, computing, and particle physics. It has been useful in molecular simulation and the development and optimization of complex systems.

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