What is the Atomic Number of an atom ?
Definition of 'Atomic Number':
More about the Atomic Number of an atom ...
- The Atomic Number uniquely identifies a chemical element.
- The Atomic Number of an atom is represented by the symbol Z.
- The number of protons in an atom is also (sometimes) called the Proton Number.
- Each element has its own Atomic Number (number of protons).
- Because atoms are neutral (that is neither positive '+ve' nor negative '-ve'), and protons have a charge of +1 while electrons have a charge of -1, the number of protons in an atom = the number of electrons in the atom.
The Atomic Number is therefore also the number of electrons in an atom.
Examples of Atomic Numbers of Elements
The best place to look for examples of the Atomic Number of chemical elements is the Periodic Table - which is included in many chemistry textbooks, wall-charts in chemistry classrooms and laboratories and online.
In most cases the atomic number and mass number of each element is included. Obviously the atomic number is the smaller of the two figures, but can appear in either an upper- or lower- corner of the square or rectangle of its element.
Here are a few examples of the atomic numbers of common elements:
Name of Element
Symbol of Element
Number of Protons
Number of Electrons
It is not necessary to memorize these examples for GCSE Chemistry.