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Q & A: Protons, Neutrons, and Electrons

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Most recent answer: 05/25/2009
How many protons, neutrons, and electrons are in flouride, nitrogen, boron, beryillium, neon, magnesium, aluminum, helium, carbon, silver, gold, plastic, rubber, and barium each.
- Amos (age 15)
cass city intermediate, Mi USA
With the exception of plastic and rubber, which are made of long chains of atoms, the rest of what you listed are elements. Every element has a specific and unique number of protons and you can tell the number of protons an atom has by its atomic number on the periodic table e.g. nitrogen has the atomic number 7 which means it has 7 protons.

The number of neutrons a specific element has can vary, but as long as the number of protons is the same it is the same element and has the same chemical properties. For example every helium atom has 2 protons, but naturally it can have 1 or 2 neutrons. Also, usually one form is much more abundant than the other, with helium 99.999% is in the 2 neutron form.

The number of electrons in an atom can also vary, but if you take a pure sample of the element under normal conditions the number of electrons is equal to the number of protons. When an atom has an equal number of protons and electrons it is called neutral, an ion is formed when electrons are either removed or added.


(published on 10/22/2007)

Follow-Up #1: Atomic properties of Neon

how many protons, electrons, and neutrons are in neon
- Joshua Doans (age 13)
temple hills maryland
Hi Joshua,
There are 10 protons, and 10 electrons in un-ionized neon.  90% of the neon atoms contain 10 neutrons.  There are a few with 11 neutrons and around 9% with 12.  Those with extra neutrons are called isotopes, the nucleii having 10 protons but a few with different  numbers of neutrons.

How do I know this?  Well, I remembered neon as being the 10th element in the periodic table which gives 10 protons and electrons, but for the number of neutrons I had to check.
My source?


(published on 10/22/2007)

Follow-Up #2: Isotopes of Neon

if i am doing a project and making a model of an atom (neon)would i put 10 11 or 12 neutrons?
- Danielle (age 13)
Hi Danielle,
Interesting question.  It turns out that all three answers are correct. There are 19 different kinds of neon, called isotopes, known.  Three of them, those with 10, 11, and 12 neutrons, are stable. The others are unstable and are radioactive, decaying into other nuclei. The most abundant isotope (90%)  Ne20 has 10 neutrons and 10 protons. 
Take a look at     for some more information.


(published on 05/25/2009)

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