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Chapter 4

Atoms, Elements, and the Periodic Table

TermDefinition
atom the smallest particle of an element
electron the negatively charged particles of an atom
nucleus the tiny center region of an atom
proton the positively charged particles of an atom
energy level the specific amount of energy an electron has
neutron the electrically neutral subatomic particle of an atom
atomic number the unique number of protons in the nucleus of an atom for each element
isotope atoms with the same number of protons and different numbers of neutrons
mass number the sum of the protons and neutrons in the nucleus of an atom
atomic mass the average mass of all the isotopes of an element
periodic table a table with a regular repeating pattern that organizes all the different elements
period the horizontal rows of the periodic table
group the vertical columns of the periodic table, sometimes known as families
chemical symbol one or two letter representation of an element’s name
plasma a state of matter that consists of a gas like mixture of free electrons and nuclei
nuclear fusion a process in which two atomic nuclei combine, forming a larger nucleus and releasing huge amounts of energy
metal an element with properties such as shininess, malleability, ductility, and conductivity
malleable a material that can be hammered or rolled into flat sheets and other shapes
ductile a material that can be pulled out, or drawn, into a long wire
conductivity the ability of an object to transfer heat or electricity to another object
reactivity the ease and speed with which an element combines with other elements and compounds
corrosion the destruction of a metal through the process of rusting
alkali metal the metals listed in Group 1 of the periodic table; very reactive metals that are usually found in compounds
alkaline earth metal Group 2; reactive metals that are good electrical conductors
transition metal the elements found in Groups 3-12; most are hard and shiny and are good conductors of electricity
particle accelerator move atomic nuclei faster and faster until they have reached very high speeds
nonmetal an element that lacks most of the properties of a metal (poor conductors, dull, and brittle)
diatomic molecule a molecule that consists of two atoms
halogen Group 17 of the periodic table, “salt forming”, very reactive
noble gas Group 18 elements; they do not form compounds because they are very stable
metalloid have characteristics of both metals and nonmetals
semiconductor substances that can conduct electricity under some conditions but not under other conditions
radioactive decay the atomic nuclei of unstable isotopes release fast moving particles and energy
radioactivity the spontaneous emission of radiation by an unstable atomic nucleus
alpha particle consists of two protons and two neutrons and is positively charged
beta particle a fast moving electron given off by a nucleus during radioactive decay
gamma radiation consists of high-energy waves, similar to X-rays
tracer radioactive isotopes that can be followed through the steps of a chemical reaction or industrial processes
Created by: KerriReynolds