Atomic Number and Mass Number | Chemistry | Fuse School


When you look at the periodic table you will
see that each element has its own box, and within that box, you will find two numbers.
The atomic number, or proton number, and the mass number, but what do these numbers mean?
The atomic number has the symbol ‘z’, this number tells you how many protons are
in one atom of an element. The number is always the same for all atoms of a particular element.
Atoms of different elements have different atomic numbers, meaning they have different
numbers of protons. For example, an atom of Hydrogen has an atomic
number of 1 because it has 1 proton, but an atom of Oxygen has and atomic number of 8
because it has 8 protons. The next number we look at is the mass number.
The mass number has the symbol A. This mass number tells you how many protons
AND neutrons are in one atom of an element. We need to remember that Protons and Neutrons
each have a relative mass of 1 and that Electrons are so small, that their mass does not need
to considered in the mass number of an atom. So if we know the mass number of an element,
and we know the atomic number we can calculate the number of Neutrons in an atom of a particular
element. So the Mass Number=The Atomic Number + the
Number of Neutrons Mass Number=protons + neutrons
So if we take oxygen, Oxygen has a mass number of 16 and an atomic
mass of 8, how many neutrons does it have? Remember Mass Number=protons + neutrons
We can rearrange this to show that Neutrons=Mass Number — Atomic Number
Neutrons=16 — 8=8
Oxygen therefore has 8 neutrons. Let take another example, Lithium has a mass number of 7 and an atomic
mass of 3, how many neutrons does it have? Mass Number=protons + neutrons
We can rearrange this to show that Neutrons=Mass Number — Atomic Number
Neutrons=7- 3=4
Lithium therefore has 4 neutrons. So the atomic number is the number of protons
in an atom and the mass number is the number of protons and neutrons in an atom.