Isotopes are a different version of atoms in a chemical element. These atoms have nuclei with varying number of neutrons, but the same number of protons. The atomic mass of each of the isotopes is different, making them physically different from each other.
Most natural elements have isotopes that are stable in their behavior. Elements can also have radioactive or unstable isotopes. Usually, for a given element, isotopes have equal number of protons and electrons and display similar chemical behavior due to a similar electronic structure.
Read on to understand the isotope terms better.
AtomAn atom is the smallest, indivisible unit of an element that retains the properties of the element. It contains a positively charged nucleus and negatively charged electrons that orbit around it.
Radioisotopes or radioactive isotopesIn an unstable atom, the nucleus keeps changing, becomes radioactive and remits alpha, beta or gamma rays until it can achieve stability. These become radioactive isotopes.
Kinetic isotope effectThe kinetic isotope effect or isotope fractionation refers to the dependency of the rate of a chemical reaction on the isotopic identity of an atom.
NeutronsNeutrons make up the nucleus of an atom along with protons. They stick together due to a strong nuclear force. Free neutrons are radioactive and they have no electrical charge.
ProtonsProtons are within an atom's nucleus along with neutrons. Protons have a positive electric charge and are generally stable. Quarks are smaller particles that form protons.
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