1. Education

Discuss in my forum

Bohr Model of the Atom

Planetary Model of the Hydrogen Atom


The Bohr Model of the atom is a planetary model in which the electrons orbit around the nucleus.

The Bohr Model of the atom is a planetary model in which the electrons orbit around the atomic nucleus.

JabberWok, Wikipedia Commons

The Bohr Model has an atom consisting of a small, positively-charged nucleus orbited by negatively-charged electrons. Here's a closer look at the Bohr Model, which is sometimes called the Rutherford-Bohr Model.

Overview of the Bohr Model

Niels Bohr proposed the Bohr Model of the Atom in 1915. Because the Bohr Model is a modification of the earlier Rutherford Model, some people call Bohr's Model the Rutherford-Bohr Model. The modern model of the atom is based on quantum mechanics. The Bohr Model contains some errors, but it is important because it describes most of the accepted features of atomic theory without all of the high-level math of the modern version. Unlike earlier models, the Bohr Model explains the Rydberg formula for the spectral emission lines of atomic hydrogen.

The Bohr Model is a planetary model in which the negatively-charged electrons orbit a small, positively-charged nucleus similar to the planets orbiting the Sun (except that the orbits are not planar). The gravitational force of the solar system is mathematically akin to the Coulomb (electrical) force between the positively-charged nucleus and the negatively-charged electrons.

Main Points of the Bohr Model

  • Electrons orbit the nucleus in orbits that have a set size and energy.
  • The energy of the orbit is related to its size. The lowest energy is found in the smallest orbit.
  • Radiation is absorbed or emitted when an electron moves from one orbit to another.

Bohr Model of Hydrogen

The simplest example of the Bohr Model is for the hydrogen atom (Z = 1) or for a hydrogen-like ion (Z > 1), in which a negatively-charged electron orbits a small positively-charged nucleus. Electromagnetic energy will be absorbed or emitted if an electron moves from one orbit to another. Only certain electron orbits are permitted. The radius of the possible orbits increases as n2, where n is the principal quantum number. The 3 → 2 transition produces the first line of the Balmer series. For hydrogen (Z = 1) this produces a photon having wavelength 656 nm (red light).

Problems with the Bohr Model

  • It violates the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle because it considers electrons to have both a known radius and orbit.
  • The Bohr Model provides an incorrect value for the ground state orbital angular momentum.
  • It makes poor predictions regarding the spectra of larger atoms.
  • It does not predict the relative intensities of spectral lines.
  • The Bohr Model does not explain fine structure and hyperfine structure in spectral lines.
  • It does not explain the Zeeman Effect.

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.