How Do You Find Neutrons?


Quick Answer

Neutrons are always found within the atom's nucleus. They are one of the three main building blocks on an atom, along with protons and electrons. Each type of element has a specific number of each of these building blocks, which can easily be determined by consulting the periodic table of elements.

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Full Answer

To determine the number of neutrons an atom has, it's necessary to look at two different pieces of information provided by the periodic table: the element's atomic number and atomic weight. The atomic number corresponds to how many protons that the element has in its nucleus, and this number is required for determining the number of neutrons.

In basic terms, the atomic weight roughly corresponds to the number of neutrons and protons inside the element's nucleus. However, in order to calculate the number of neutrons, it's first necessary to round up the atomic weight to the nearest whole number in order to determine the element's mass number. Then, the atomic number needs to be subtracted from the mass number to calculate the number of neutrons.

For instance, the atomic weight of silver is 107.8682, so its mass number is 108, while its atomic number is 47, which means it has that number of protons. By subtracting the atomic number of 47 from the mass number of 108, it can be determined that silver contains 61 neutrons.

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