According to Bohr’s atomic theory, an atom is composed of a nucleus at the center and one or more electrons rotating around the nucleus along different energy orbits. The nucleus is primarily composed of protons and neutrons, collectively called nucleons. For an atom of a given element, the number of electrons moving around the nucleus equals the number of protons, balancing the electrical charge of the nucleus. The number of protons in a nucleus is called the atomic number of the element and is denoted by Z. The size of an atom is of the order of 10-8 cm (1 angstrom, Å). The electron configuration of the atom determines the chemical properties of an element, whereas the nuclear structure characterizes the stability and radioactive decay of a nucleus.


Atomic Number Electron Configuration Nuclear Force Valence Shell Mass Defect 
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Suggested Reading

  1. Ander P, Sonnessa AJ (1965) Principles of chemistry. MacMillan, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  2. Evans RD (1955) The atomic nucleus. McGraw-Hill, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  3. Friedlander G, Kennedy JW, Miller JM (1964) Nuclear and radiochemistry, 2nd edn. Wiley, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  4. Harvey BG (1962) Introduction to nuclear physics and chemistry. Prentice-Hall, New YorkGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1979

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gopal B. Saha
    • 1
  1. 1.University of Arkansas for Medical SciencesLittle RockUSA

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