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    Atomic number


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    Join date : 2010-09-16

    Atomic number

    Post  kosovohp01 on Mon Nov 29, 2010 7:40 am

    The atomic number of an element, Z, is equal to the number of protons that defines the element. For example, all carbon atoms contain 6 protons in their nucleus; so the atomic number "Z" of carbon is 6. Carbon atoms may have different numbers of neutrons; atoms of the same element having different numbers of neutrons are known as isotopes of the element.

    The number of protons in the atomic nucleus also determines its electric charge, which in turn determines the electrons of the atom in its non-ionized state. This in turn (by means of the Pauli exclusion principle) determines the atom's various chemical properties. So all carbon atoms, for example, ultimately have identical chemical properties because they all have the same number of protons in their nucleus, and therefore have the same atomic number. It is for this reason that atomic number rather than mass number (or atomic weight) is considered the identifying characteristic of an element.

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