Atomic Radius Chart

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Atomic radii vary in a predictable and explicable manner across the periodic table. For instance, the radii generally decrease along each period (row) of the table, from the alkali metals to the noble gases; and increase down each group (column). The radius increases sharply between the noble gas at the end of each period and the alkali metal at the beginning of the next period. These trends of the atomic radii (and of various other chemical and physical properties of the elements) can be explained by the electron shell theory of the atom; they provided important evidence for the development and confirmation of quantum theory. The atomic radii decrease across the Periodic Table because as the atomic number increases, the number of protons increases across the period, but the extra electrons are only added to the same quantum shell. Therefore, the effective nuclear charge towards the outermost electrons increases, drawing the outermost electrons closer. As a result, the electron cloud contracts and the atomic radius decreases.