The key difference between neutron and neutrino is that neutrons have a higher mass than neutrinos.
Though earlier scientists like Dalton thought that atom is the smallest unit that makes up any substance, they later discovered that there are several other subatomic particles as well. Electrons, protons, and neutrons are the main subatomic particles in an atom. In the structure of an atom, scientists describe how all these sub-particles are arranged within an atom. Neutrons and neutrinos are two such subatomic particles.
What is Neutron?
Neutron is a subatomic particle that resides in the nucleus of an atom. We denote it by n. Neutron does not have a charge. Its mass is 1.674927 × 10−27 kg, which is slightly higher than the mass of a proton. A nucleus of an atom also contains protons, which have a positive charge. If there are only protons in the nuclei, the repulsion between those will be higher. Therefore, the presence of neutrons is important to bind the protons together in the nuclei.
A single element can have a different number of neutrons in their nuclei. These atoms, which have similar numbers of electrons or protons and different neutrons, are isotopes. For example, among the isotopes of hydrogen, protium doesn’t have neutrons, and deuterium has only one neutron. Tritium nucleus contains two neutrons with one proton.
Sometimes, the number of neutrons can be similar to the proton number, but this necessarily not so. We call the neutrons and protons in the nucleus collectively as nucleons. By looking at the atomic number and the mass number of an element, we can determine the number of neutrons it has.
Number of Neutrons = Mass Number – Atomic Number
Discovery of Neutron
Rutherford first described the neutron in 1920. Since it has no charge, it was difficult to detect neutrons. Afterward, James Chadwick discovered the neutron. The experiment that lead to the discovery was bombarding beryllium metal with alpha particles. They observed that, after bombarding, a non-ionizing, very penetrating radiation emitted from Beryllium. When this radiation was allowed to hit with a paraffin wax block, it produced protons.
Later, they found that radiation emitted from the Beryllium contains neutrons. Neutrons are emitted by unstable, heavy nuclei, and they play an important role in nuclear reactions. These nuclei become stable by neutron emission, which happens in spontaneous fission. Furthermore, neutrons are important in energy production through chain reactions.
What is Neutrino?
Neutrino is a subatomic particle with a small mass (similar to electrons) and no electrical charge. Since there is no electrical charge, neutrinos are not affected by the electrical or magnetic forces. We can denote it by the letter ѵ(nu).
There are three types of neutrinos as electron neutrino, muon neutrino, and tau neutrino. Neutrino has a spin of half-integer. It is hard to determine this particle directly as they don’t carry a charge, and don’t ionize the materials they are passing through. Moreover, present detectors can only detect high energy neutrinos.
What is the Difference Between Neutron and Neutrino?
Neutron is a subatomic particle that resides in the nucleus of an atom. Whereas, neutrino is a subatomic particle with a small mass (similar to electrons) and no electrical charge. So, the key difference between neutron and neutrino is that neutrons have a higher mass than neutrinos. Also, another significant difference between neutron and neutrino is that the neutrons are closely similar to the protons in their mass, but the neutrinos are closely related to the electrons in their mass. However, both these particles don’t have a charge. Moreover, neutrinos are elementary particles and neutrons are non-elementary particles.
The below infographic summarizes the difference between neutron and neutrino.
Summary – Neutron vs Neutrino
Neutron is a subatomic particle which resides in the nucleus of an atom while neutrino is a subatomic particle with a small mass (similar to electrons) and no electrical charge. The key difference between neutron and neutrino is that Neutrons have a higher mass than neutrinos.
1. “Neutrino.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 26 July 2018, Available here.