What Are the Components of a Nuclear Symbol?


Quick Answer

The components of a nuclear symbol include the symbol of the element, the atomic number of the element, and the mass number of the isotope. Isotopes of a specific element have the same symbol but a different amount of neutrons.

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Full Answer

The letters are the symbol of the isotope. For example, Li is stands for lithium. The upper number is the mass number and the lower number is the atomic number. To find the number of neutrons, take the upper number and subtract the lower number. Take 7 and subtract 3, and the amount of neutrons for Lithium is 4.

The atomic number is the number of protons an element has in its nucleus.The atomic mass is the number of protons and neutrons an element has in its nucleus. A way to help figure out the element's atomic mass and atomic number is to pick an element that is naturally occurring on the periodic table that will give you its atomic number. Find the element's weight and round to the nearest whole number to get its atomic mass.

Most of the time this will be the mass number of an isotope that is stable. The symbol for silver is Ag. The atomic mass is 107.868 but rounded to the nearest whole number makes it 108. The atomic number is 47. To find the amount of neutrons for silver take 108 and subtract 47 and the answer is 61.

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