What Are Atoms Made Of?

Atoms are the basic unit for building molecules. Atoms join together with other atoms to create compounds.

  1. Composition

    • Atoms are composed of neutrons, electrons and protons. Electrons have a negative charge, protons have a positive charge and neutrons have no charge.


    • The protons and neutrons are located in the nucleus of the atom, and the electrons orbit the nucleus.


    • The size of an atom can only be estimated and is thought to be as large as 0.3 nanometers. A neutron is about the same mass as protons. Protons and neutrons are more than 1,800 times bigger than an electron.


    • The first person to conceive of an atom was John Dalton, an English chemist. In 1897,
      J.J. Thomson, an English physicist, was the first to propose a model of the atom.

    Fun Fact

    • There are 90 atoms that are formed without human intervention. Laboratories have succeeded in creating an additional 25.

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  • Photo Credit Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Christian Guthier

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