What Happens if You Add a Neutron to an Element?

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If you add a neutron to an element, a very specific thing is going to happen next. Find out what happens if you add a neutron to an element with help from an experienced chemistry professional in this free video clip.

Part of the Video Series: Chemistry Lessons
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Video Transcript

Hi, I'm Robin Higgins and this is what happens if you add a neutron to an element. So to answer this question let's just look at an example of a typical helium atom. So helium has two protons, put a little positive charge there and then circling around the nucleus, it's going to have two electrons and those electrons are there to cancel out the positive charge caused by the protons and so now we have to answer how many neutrons is this atom going to have and the answer is that most helium atoms are going to have two and we'll just leave those blank because they don't have a charge but that's not a hard and fast rule like the number of protons and electrons. So it's totally possible and it does exist that helium can have variations with three and even four neutrons. So let's draw another guy here and this guy has the same two protons, two electrons circling the nucleus and now this guy has three neutrons and the relationship between these two atoms is that we would say that this is an isotope of this and this is an isotope of this so it's kind of like chemistry cousins. For the most part, isotopes behave exactly the same. They have a little tiny bit of different properties when it comes to having different masses because this helium with three neutrons is going to weigh a little bit more but for the most part they are pretty much the same and so this is a helium 3 isotope, this is a helium 2 isotope. And that is, oh I'm Robin Higgins and that is what happens when you add a neutron to an element.


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