Asked Feb 9, 2019

Define isotope and give examples of isotopes that are important for biology.


Expert Answer

Step 1

Atom consists of nucleus and extranuclear space. Protons and neutrons are present inside the nucleus while electrons are present in extranuclear space. For an atom, number of electrons is always equal to number of protons. It changes only if the atom loses or gains electron, it is then no longer an atom but is termed as ion.


Step 2

Number of protons remain same in both atom as well as its ion. So, it is an identifying feature for an atom. It is termed as ATOMIC NUMBER and is written as a subscript with the symbol of an atom of a particular element.

Electrons have negligible mass. So, whole of the mass of an atom is due to its protons and neutrons. These have almost similar masses. So, the total of protons and neutrons present in an atom is termed as MASS NUMBER. It is written as a superscript with the symbol of that atom.

Step 3

Not all the atoms of an element are same. They differ in the number of neutrons and can have different mass number but atomic number remains same.

Such atoms of same element which differ in number of neutrons only are called ISOTOPES. These have different mass num...

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