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atomic radius

noun

the radius of an atom; the distance from the atomic nucleus to the outermost stable electron orbital in a atom at equilibrium; also, one-half the distance between nuclei of atoms of the same element, when the atoms are bound by a single covalent bond or are in a metallic crystal

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Encyclopedia Article for atomic radius

half the distance between the nuclei of identical neighbouring atoms. An atom has no rigid spherical boundary, but it may be thought of as a tiny, dense positive nucleus surrounded by a diffuse negative cloud of electrons. The value of atomic radii depends on the type of chemical bond in which the atoms are involved (metallic, ionic, or covalent bond). When the neighbouring atoms are not alike, as in sodium chloride, part of the observed distance between atoms is assigned to one kind of atom and the rest to the other kind

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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