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Isotopes

AP.Chem:
SPQ‑1 (EU)
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SPQ‑1.B (LO)
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SPQ‑1.B.2 (EK)
Isotopes are atoms of the same element with different numbers of neutrons. Because they contain different numbers of neutrons, isotopes have different atomic masses. The average atomic mass of an element is calculated by taking the weighted average mass of the element's naturally occurring isotopes. Created by Sal Khan.

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  • blobby green style avatar for user Nureet
    How were the atomic numbers of elements determined?
    (2 votes)
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  • blobby green style avatar for user yashodakasarla9876
    Why are protons not repelling in nucleus?
    (5 votes)
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  • area 52 blue style avatar for user harish.n.manivannan
    Why aren't there any videos for the lesson on moles and molar mass? I know it's off topic, but I'm having trouble understanding moles & molar mass.
    (5 votes)
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    • leaf red style avatar for user Richard
      The mole is a unit for the amount of substance officially, or in other words how much of something there is. Similar to how a dozen of something tells you how many things there are, in a dozen's case 12. A mole is officially defined as 6.02214076 x 10^(23) particles, which is a very big number obviously. So if you have a dozen atoms you have 12 atoms, but if you have a mole of atoms you have 6.02214076 x 10^(23) atoms. Given how small and numerous atoms are we encounter them on the order of a mole often so it makes using it a convenient unit. Instead of saying I have 6.02214076 x 10^(23) atoms in this beaker, I can just say I have a mole of atoms in this beaker. This 6.02214076 x 10^(23) is also known as Avogadro's number, or Avogadro's constant.

      Molar mass is the amount of mass contained within a mole amount of a certain substance. Molar mass is usually given in units of grams/mole, or g/mol. So if you have a molecule with a molar mass of 10.00 g/mol then what it's telling you is that if you gather together a moles amount of those molecules, 6.02214076 x 10^(23) molecules, then it will have a mass of 10.00 grams.

      Hope that helps.
      (7 votes)
  • duskpin seedling style avatar for user Janetakselrud
    At -
    Any ideas as to why the mass of protons and neutrons together in the nucleus is a little less than one universal atomic mass unit? Even though individually, the mass of a proton of neutron is a little more than 1 universal atomic mass unit.
    (5 votes)
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  • spunky sam blue style avatar for user ‏‏‎ ‎Oliver
    I see he writes it like, "chlorine -35" except there's what looks like a line above I and n. What is that line for?
    (2 votes)
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  • leaf red style avatar for user saidja145
    Does that mean that all elements are isotopes?
    (2 votes)
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  • blobby green style avatar for user mnie2022
    How did you get the percentages?
    (2 votes)
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  • blobby green style avatar for user Nureet
    How do we have any idea about the number of protons an element has?Or electrons even?
    (3 votes)
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  • leaf green style avatar for user jegededave42
    So, the average atomic mass of say carbon is the mass of all carbon atoms in nature right?
    And this mass is a weighted average based on the relative abundances of the isotopes of carbon.
    The fact that the relative abundance (which are expressed as percentages) are used as fractions, makes the average mass not bigger than it's supposed to.
    Am i right?
    (2 votes)
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    • piceratops ultimate style avatar for user Hecretary Bird
      Yes, exactly right! Taking a normal average wouldn't make much sense because in it you assume that every isotope shows up an equal amount of time, which is wrong. We fix this by taking a weighted average of the masses, with the weight being the relative abundance of each isotope to get the average atomic mass.
      (3 votes)
  • blobby green style avatar for user maram2016essam
    Do we have to memorize the numbers of atomic numbers (protons) in the periodic table to figure out the neutrons??
    (3 votes)
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Video transcript

- [Instructor] In other videos we have talked about that the type of element that we are dealing with is defined by the number of protons in an atom's nucleus. So for example, any atom with exactly one proton in its nucleus is by definition hydrogen. Any atom with six protons in its nucleus is by definition carbon, any atom with 17 protons in its nucleus is by definition chlorine, and so these numbers that I'm circling on a periodic table of elements, that's known as the atomic number, but it's really just the number of protons in an atom of that element types nucleus. And that defines what type of element it is. But in this video we're going to dig a little bit deeper and realize that you can still have different versions of the same element and these versions in chemistry speak are known as isotopes. Now how can you have different versions of the same element if the number of protons defines what the element is? Well, the versions the various isotopes are going to happen based on the number of neutrons you have. So for example, there are two stable isotopes of chlorine, there's one version of chlorine known as chlorine 35. Let me write it over here, chlorine 35. It's sometimes written like this, in fact it's often written like this, chlorine 35 and this isotope notation that you see over here where we have 35 in the top left, that 35 is the sum of this version, this isotope of chlorines protons and neutrons. This number 35 is this isotope of chlorines mass number. So it has a total of 35 protons and neutrons, how many neutrons does this version of chlorine have? Well it's going to have 17 protons. 17 protons, I know that because we are dealing with chlorine, so how many neutrons will it have? Well 35 minus 17 is 18, 18 neutrons. And there's another version of chlorine that is stable and that is chlorine 37. Now how many protons is that going to have? Well that's a trick question, by definition it's chlorine, it's going to have 17 protons. This is going to have 17 protons, but then how many neutrons will it have? Well the protons plus the neutrons is 37, so 17 plus 20 is going to be 37. So it's going to be 20 neutrons, and this would be written out as chlorine, chlorine 37. So you can see these are two different versions of chlorine, same number of protons which make them chlorine, but different number of neutrons. Now you can imagine these different versions are going to have different atomic masses, but here on a periodic table of elements there's only one average atomic mass listed, and the key word here is this is an average atomic mass. It's the weighted average of the masses of the chlorines, the stable chlorines that you will find. So for example, in nature 75.77% of the chlorine found is chlorine 35, and then the remaining 24.23% of the chlorine found is chlorine 37. So when they calculate this average atomic mass, what they do is they would take, or you would take, if you're calculating it, so this would be 75.77% times the atomic mass, atomic mass of chlorine 35 plus, and now the weight here would be 24.23% times the atomic mass, atomic mass of chlorine 37. And if you were to do this calculation you would get this number right over here, 35.45 unified atomic mass units. Now, how do you figure out the atomic mass of chlorine 35? You might be tempted to say it's just 35 unified atomic mass units, and you would be close because the mass of a proton is close to one universal atomic mass unit, and the mass of a neutron is close to one universal atomic mass unit, and then the electrons are have a much, much, much smaller mass. You can also almost consider them negligible for atomic mass purposes, and so you will get an atomic mass close to 35. But it actually turns out it's a little bit different because not only are the masses of each individual proton or neutron a little bit more actually than one unified atomic mass unit, but when you put all those protons and neutrons together in a nucleus, their combined masses is actually a little bit less than their individual masses if you were to just add them up, and that's actually known as a mass defect. And so if you actually want to know the atomic mass of chlorine 35, you can look that up in a lot of tables, and you will see that it's actually slightly under 35 unified atomic mass units.