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Homework Help: Isotopes of an element differ in physical properties

  1. Feb 6, 2006 #1
    Im stuck on this question.

    Isotopes of an element differ in physical properties but not chemical properties. Explain this in terms of structure.

    I know isotopes have the same number of protons and diff neutrons, but dont know how to answer the question. Thanks!
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 6, 2006 #2
    For chemical properities (ie. bonding and so on) it's the electrons that matter the most.
  4. Feb 6, 2006 #3
    i think it's because neutrons have no charge therefore have no effect on chemical reactions.
  5. Feb 6, 2006 #4


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    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor

    discombobulated is correct. Think about the structure of the atom.

    The atomic number (Z), which is the number of protons in the nucleus, determines the number of electrons surrounding the nucleus in order to maintain charge neutrality with respect to the world outside of the individual atom. It is the electrons which are responsible for the 'chemical' properties of an element (atom).

    Remember the atom is the smallest unit of an element, and each element has its unique identity based upon the number of protons in its nucleus.

    Refer to the Periodic Table of Elements, and

    http://wwwndc.tokai.jaeri.go.jp/CN04/ [Broken] - for isotopes (nuclides) and some of their nuclear properties.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 2, 2017
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