What Do All Isotopes of the Same Element Have in Common?

All isotopes of the same element share a common number of protons and electrons, though they vary in their relative numbers of neutrons. All isotopes of a given element are chemically identical, and they form bonds with other elements in the same way regardless of their neutron count or intrinsic stability.

Many atoms have more than one stable configuration of neutrons in their nucleus. Even elements with only one stable isotope, such as gold, can temporarily acquire extra neutrons, though the resulting isotopes are unstable and decay too rapidly to be found in nature. Elements with more than one stable isotope may be used in chemistry without regard to their isotopic number, though the different weight of the atoms can alter the physical properties of the molecules for processes such as diffusion.

All isotopes of an element carry the same electrical charge because the only variable between different isotopes is the number of neutrons present, and neutrons are electrically neutral. All of the isotopes of an element have the same number of protons and electrons, which are the charge-carrying particles in the atom, so they interact with their surrounding electromagnetic environment in the same way regardless of their weight or isotope number.