Smallest Atom in the Periodic Table
The periodic table of elements is a tabular arrangement of different chemical elements that are organized according to atomic numbers, electron configurations and chemical properties. The rows are called periods while the columns are called groups. Elements with the smallest atomic radii are found on the upper right while those with the largest ones are found on the lower left.
The elements in the periodic table are listed according to atomic number. The number signifies the number of protons in its nucleus, which makes Hydrogen the smallest atom in the periodic table.
History, Discovery and Use
The production of hydrogen gas was first discovered by Robert Boyle in 1671 brought about by the reaction between iron filings and dilute acids. In 1766, Henry Cavendish coined the term ‘flammable air’ and recognized hydrogen gas as a discrete substance. In 1781, Cavendish discovered that when the ‘flammable air’ is burned, gas is produced. He was given credit for the discovery of Hydrogen as an element. Antoine Lavoisier changed the name into ‘Hydrogen’ in 1783 and used it on his experiments involving mass conservation.
Further, the first hydrogen-filled balloon was invented on the same year by Jacques Charles. Hydrogen was also used in Henri Giffard’s hydrogen-lifted airship invention in 1852. In 1898, Hydrogen was liquefied by James Dewar using regenerative cooling and vacuum flask. By the following year, solid hydrogen was produced.
Because of its simple atomic structure, the hydrogen atom has played a significant role in the development of the theory of atomic structure. It also paved way to the better understanding of chemical bonds. Today, hydrogen is widely used in industrial production as well as in the production of nickel hydrogen batteries in 1977.
Having a chemical symbol H, an atomic number of 1 and has only has an atomic weight of 1.007.94 u, Hydrogen is considered as the smallest atom in the periodic table. This element is also considered as the most abundant chemical substance, making up 75% of the Universe’s baryonic mass.
Hydrogen is also colorless, odorless, tasteless, non-toxic and non-metallic element. It is also a highly combustible diatomic gas, with a molecular formula of H2. Further, it can readily form into covalent compounds, which explains why most hydrogen on Earth is in molecules that are made up of water and organic compounds.
Hydrogen can be used in many ways. It is mainly used in the process of upgrading fossil fuels and production of ammonia. It is also used as a hydrogenating agent in order to increase the levels of saturation of oil and fats and in the production of methanol.
Aside from being a reactant, hydrogen can also be used as a shielding gas in welding methods, a rotor coolant in electrical generators because of its low density, low viscosity and high thermal conductivity. It is also mixed with nitrogen which will be applied in automotive, aerospace and telecommunication industries. Further, it is also used to saturate dangling bonds of amorphous silicon and carbon in order to stabilize material properties.