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Atoms are the basic units of matter that consists of a dense central nucleus surrounded by a cloud of negatively charged .
The atomic nucleus contains a mix of positively charged and electrically neutral (except in the case of hydrogen-1, which is the only stable nuclide with no neutrons).
The electrons of an atom are bound to the nucleus by the . Likewise, a group of atoms can remain bound to each other by chemical bonds based on the same force, forming a molecule.
An illustration of the helium atom, depicting the nucleus (pink) and the electron cloud distribution (black). The nucleus (upper right) in helium-4 is in reality spherically symmetric and closely resembles the electron cloud, although for more complicated nuclei this is not always the case. The black bar is one angstrom (10−10 m or 100 pm). image:
An atom containing an equal number of protons and electrons is electrically neutral, otherwise it is positively or negatively charged and is known as an ion.
An atom is classified according to the number of protons and neutrons in its nucleus: the number of protons determines the chemical element, and the number of neutrons determines the isotope of the element.