Question Video: Recalling the Charge of an Electron, a Proton, and a Neutron

Subatomic particles can have a charge. a) What is the charge of a proton? b) What is the charge of a neutron? c) What is the charge of an electron?

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Video Transcript

Subatomic particles can have a charge. What is the charge of a proton? What is the charge of a neutron? What is the charge of an electron?

Subatomic particles, generally speaking, are particles smaller than an atom although there are some exceptions. But the only three that chemists generally worry about are protons, neutrons, and electrons. In the simplest picture of an atom, there are two parts, a nucleus at the very middle and a cloud of electrons around it. The nucleus contains protons and most of the time neutrons. What the question wants us to remember is what the charges of these particles are.

Charge is a property of particles which allows them to attract or repel each other. There are two types of charge, positive and negative. If two particles have the same type of charge, they repel each other. But if they have opposite charges, they attract one another. The easiest thing to remember is that a nucleus has a positive charge. And the electrons that are attracted to the nucleus have a negative charge. Inside the nucleus, it’s the protons that carry the positive charge and it’s the neutrons that are neutral. If you need help remembering which particles have which charge, think about negative electron, positive proton, and neutral neutron. But we’re not quite done yet. We need to know the sizes of the charges, not just their signs.

For a proton, we can think about a hydrogen ion. A hydrogen ion consists of a single proton. And it has a single positive charge. So hopefully, that should remind you that the charge of a single proton is one plus. The charge of a neutron is easy to remember. If it has no charge, it has a charge of zero. And the charge of the electron is simply the same size as that of a proton, but with the other sign. So the charge of an electron is one minus.

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