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Different Types of Atoms

April 13, 2013

Introduction to different types of atoms

An atom is the fundamental unit of all matter.It was believed that it is indivisible further. But, physicists showed through many experiments that it is also divisible into further smaller particles, from which the atom is composed of.  The constituents of an atom are Protons, Neutrons and Electrons.  The protons are positively charged as by the convention, which is purely arbitrary. A neutron is neutral and an electron is negatively charged.  The number of neutron should be equal to the number of protons in an atom to attain neutrality.  This rule is always fulfilled in an atom of an element.  But the number of neutrons and the number of protons in the nucleus of an atom may differ.  The neutron does not play any role in maintaining the neutrality of the atom, except being itself neutral.  It is just assumed like glue which sticks the protons together.  The contribution of the neutrons to an atom is not only in terms of mass but also in terms of atomic properties.  Different types of atoms are known depending on their constituent fundamental particles.

Different types of atoms: 1) Isotopes

The atoms with same atomic number (equal number of protons) but differ in the number of neutrons are called Isotopes. The isotopes differ in their properties as well as in their abundance of existence.  Many of the isotopic forms of an atom are radioactive in nature.

Example: Carbon atom basically contains 6 protons and 6 neutrons. So, its mass number is 12. There exist 3 naturally occurring isotopes of carbon. They are 12C   13C 14C. C – 12 isotope is the major atom in existence which makes up 98.9% and C – 13 makes up the remaining 1.10%. The C – 14 is very less in its occurrence. C – 9 to C – 22 different types of isotopes are available but these 3 are naturally occurring types.

2) Isotones

Isotones are the atoms of different elements which have same number of neutrons but different atomic numbers.Example: Boron-12 and Carbon-13 nuclei contain 7 neutrons so they are isotones.Similarly, S-36, Cl-37, Ar-38, K-39, and Ca-40 nuclei contain 20 neutrons, hence are isotones.


Isobars are the atoms of elements which possess equal number of nucleons. It may also be defined as the atoms which have same mass number of but different atomic number.  “Nucleon” is a term referred to the combination of Proton and Neutron.


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