The isotope sodium-20 has how many neutrons?

1 Answer
Dec 27, 2016

#"9 neutrons"#


The trick here is to realize that the name of the isotope includes its mass number.

As you know, the mass number of an atom, #A#, is equal to the number of nucleons, i.e. protons and neutrons, present inside its nucleus

#color(red)(ul(color(black)(A = Z + "no. of neutrons")))#


  • #Z# is the atomic number, i.e. the number of protons located inside the nucleus

In isotope notation, the mass number of the isotope is added after a minus sign that follows the name of the element

#color(red)(ul(color(black)("name of element"-"mass number")))#

In your case, you have

#"sodium"-color(blue)(20) -> {("sodium is the element"), ("the mass number is equal to" color(white)(.)color(blue)(20)) :}#

Now, a quick look in the Periodic Table of Elements will reveal that sodium has an atomic number equal to #11#. This means that you have

#color(blue)(20) = 11 + "no. of neutrons"#

Consequently, the number of neutrons present in the nucleus of a sodium-20 isotope will be

#color(darkgreen)(ul(color(black)("no. of neutrons" = 20 - 11 = 9)))#