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Difference Between Proton and Neutron

Proton vs Neutron

Atoms are the small building blocks of all existing substances. They are so tiny that we can’t even observe with our naked eye. Normally atoms are in the Angstrom range. After a lot of experiments, the atomic structure was described during the 19th century. Atom is made up of a nucleus, which has protons and neutrons. Other than neutrons and positrons there are other small sub atomic particles in the nucleus. And there are electrons circling around the nucleus in orbitals. Most of the space in an atom is empty. The attractive forces between the positive charged nucleus (positive charge due to protons) and the negatively charged electrons maintain the atom’s shape. Both protons and neutrons are nucleons. They are located together in the nuclei of atoms bound by the nuclei force.


Proton is the sub atomic particle in the atoms’ nucleus and has a positive charge. Proton is generally denoted as p. When electron was discovered, scientists had no idea about a particle called proton. Goldstein discovered a positively charged particle that was produced from gases. These were known as anode rays. Unlike electrons, these had different charge to mass ratios depending on the gas used. After various experiments by many scientists, finally Rutherford discovered the proton in 1917.

Number of protons is important to indicate the atomic number, because for an element, atomic number is equal to the number of protons it has in the nucleus. For example, atomic number of sodium is 11; therefore, sodium has eleven electrons in the nucleus. Proton has a +1 charge, and its mass is 1.6726×10−27 kg. Proton is said to be made up of three quarks, two up quarks and one down quark. It is considered as a stable particle, because its decaying lifetime is very long. The simplest element, hydrogen has only one proton. When the hydrogen atom releases its electron, it forms a H+ ion, which has a proton. Therefore, in chemistry, the term “proton” is used to call the H+ ion. H+ is important in acid base reaction and, this is an extremely reactive species. There is more than one proton in all the other elements except hydrogen. Usually in neutral atoms, the number of negatively charged electrons and the number of positively charged protons are similar.


Neutron is another sub atomic particle which is found in the nuclei of atoms. It is shown by the symbol n. Neutrons don’t have any electrical charge. It has a bit similar mass compared to protons, but the mass of a neutron is little bit larger than that of a proton. Therefore, neutrons are considered when taking the mass number of atoms. Same type of atoms may differ due to the number of neutrons present, and these are known as isotopes. Rutherford put forward the possibility of having a particle like neutron within the nuclei. Then after a series of experiments, Chadwick proved this and found neutrons. Neutron is made up of three quarks, two down quarks and one up quark. Free neutrons are unstable and have a very short half life. Neutrons are important in nuclear reactions.


What is the difference between Proton and Neutron?

• Proton has a positive charge, but neutrons are electrically neutral.

• The mass of a neutron is little bit larger than that of a proton.

• Protons are considered to be stable, because they have very long half life times (years). But neutrons are unstable and have very short half lifetimes.

• Proton is said to be made up of three quarks, two up quarks and one down quark. Neutron is made up of three quarks, two down quarks and one up quark.



Related posts:

  1. Difference Between Neutron and Neutrino
  2. Difference Between Positron and Proton
  3. Difference Between Atomic Number and Mass Number
  4. Difference Between Atomic Weight and Mass Number
  5. Difference Between Atomic Number and Atomic Weight

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