How do isotopes of carbon differ from one another?

1 Answer
Jul 25, 2014

Answer:

They differ in the number of neutrons in the nucleus.

Explanation:

Isotopes are atoms that have the same number of protons but different numbers of neutrons.

Carbon has 15 known isotopes, ranging from carbon-8 to carbon-22.

Only carbon-12 and carbon-13 are stable. Carbon-14 is the longest-lived radioactive isotope.

We write the symbols for isotopes as #""_Z^AX#, where #X# is the symbol of the element, #Z# is the atomic number, and #A# is the mass number.

The number of neutrons = #A - Z#.

The symbol for carbon-12 is #""_6^12"C"#. A carbon-12 atom has 12 – 6 = 6 neutrons.

The symbol for carbon-13 is #""_6^13"C"#. A carbon-13 atom has 13 – 6 = 7 neutrons.

The symbol for carbon-14 is #""_6^14"C"#. A carbon-14 atom has 14 – 6 = 8 neutrons.

In the same way, a carbon-8 atom has 2 neutrons, and a carbon-22 atom has 16 neutrons.

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