Different Kinds of Atoms

Different Kinds of Atoms
••• Emilija Randjelovic/iStock/GettyImages

Atoms, once thought to be the smallest building blocks of nature, are in fact made of smaller particles. Most often these particles are in balance, and as such the atom is stable and lasts nearly forever. Some atoms are out of balance. This can make them radioactive.


Atoms are made of tiny particles called protons, neutrons and electrons. Protons and neutrons clump together to form a central nucleus. The electrons move in a cloud-like region around the nucleus.


Most atoms are stable. Their protons, neutrons and electrons balance. Barring outside forces, a stable atom will stay the same indefinitely.


Every atom is a chemical element, like hydrogen, iron or chlorine. Every element has cousins called isotopes. These have a different number of neutrons, but are otherwise the same. Having excess neutrons may make isotopes radioactive.


Some atoms have too many neutrons in the nucleus, which makes them unstable. They’re radioactive, giving off particles until they become stable.


Atoms with extra or missing electrons are called ions. They have a positive or negative electric charge and are responsible for many chemical reactions.


Every atomic particle has a twin anti-particle, with an opposite electric charge. Antimatter hydrogen atoms have been formed in the laboratory, containing an anti-proton and anti-electron. Antimatter is very rare and fragile.

Related Articles

How Are Protons and Electrons Similar?
What Are the Properties and Characteristics of Static...
What Is an Unstable Atom?
What Does It Tell You if Iron Has an Atomic Number...
What Orbits the Center of an Atom?
What Is the Difference between Quarks & Leptons?
Why is an Atom Electrically Neutral?
Particles That Are Smaller Than an Atom
Difference Between Atoms & Ions
What Is a Noble Gas Configuration?
What Does Ion Mean?
Uses for Hydrogen-3
What Are the Components of the Atomic Structure?
Number of Protons in an Uncharged Atom
Does the Nucleus of an Atom Have Much of an Effect...
What Determines Whether an Ion Will Form?
How Many Protons Does Calcium Have?
How to Know If an Element Is an Isotope?
What Are an Atom, Electron, Neutron and Proton?
What Are the Charges of Protons, Neutrons and Electrons?

Dont Go!

We Have More Great Sciencing Articles!