History of Atoms

History of Atoms: Discovery of Protons and Neutrons

Atoms make up practically everything in the world, and atoms are made of protons, neutrons and electrons. Due to this, in order to understand items in greater depth, a more thorough understanding of protons and neutrons is crucial.

Here, the discovery of proton and neutron components of an atom has been focused on.

The Discovery of Protons

Since 1815, when the English chemist William Prout proposed that all atoms are made up of hydrogen atoms, protons have been recognised as a fundamental element of matter (which he referred to as protyles).

Canal rays (positively charged ions created by gases) were discovered in 1886 by the German physicist Eugen Goldstein.

We revealed that the hydrogen ion had the most excellent charge-to-mass ratio of all the gases studied at that time. In addition, it discovered that the hydrogen ion had the smallest size of all the ionised gases studied.

Ernest Rutherford discovered the atom’s nucleus in 1911 during his famous gold foil experiment, which is still remembered today. He concluded that all of the positively charged particles in a scrap were concentrated in a single core and that the vast majority of the atom’s volume was empty.

Discovery of Protons and Neutrons

Also mentioned by him was the fact that the total number of positively charged particles in the nucleus is equal to the total number of negatively charged electrons present in the surrounding area.

Who Was the Discoverer of Protons?

The year 1917 marks the 100th anniversary of Ernest Rutherford’s demonstration that the nucleus of a hydrogen atom (a proton) is present in the hearts of all other particles. Rutherford was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics in recognition of his work. Rutherford is also credited with discovering the atomic nucleus due to the findings from the gold-foil experiment, which he conducted in 1897.

What was the process by which the proton was discovered?

With his scintillation detectors, Ernest Rutherford discovered that hydrogen nuclei were identified when Rutherford fired a stream of alpha particles into the air. Rutherford conducted more research and discovered that the hydrogen nuclei in the atmosphere were created by the nitrogen atoms existing in the environment.

He then discharged beams of alpha particles into pure nitrogen gas, where he discovered that a higher amount of hydrogen nuclei were created than previously thought.

Through the experiment, he concluded that the hydrogen nuclei were formed from the nitrogen atom, demonstrating that the hydrogen nucleus was a component of all other particles in the universe.

Using this experiment, the first time a nuclear reaction was seen was reported: 14N p 17O p [where p is the proton and ‘p’ is the alpha particle, which includes two protons and two neutrons, and p is an alpha particle].

The hydrogen nucleus was eventually referred to as a ‘proton,’ and it was acknowledged as one of the building components of the atomic nucleus by the scientific community.

Discovery of Neutrons

Nuclear physicists Herbert Becker and Walther Bothe in Germany found in 1930 that when it impacted alpha particles from polonium on light materials like lithium, beryllium, and boron, it formed a penetrating kind of radiation. Because this penetrating radiation was unaffected by electric fields, it was considered to be gamma radiation at the time. This finding led to the discovery of neutrons.

This particularly penetrating radiation was discovered by the French scientists Frederic Joliot-Curie and Irene Joliot-Curie in 1932, when they found that it induced the discharge of high energy protons (about 5 MeV) when impacting on paraffin wax (or other substances rich in hydrogen). E. Majorana, an Italian scientist, proposed the presence of a neutral particle in the atom’s nucleus, which he said was responsible for how radiation interacted with the protons.

Ernest Rutherford proposed the existence of neutral particles in the nucleus of atoms in 1920, and other scientists later confirmed this. He suggested that the nucleus of atoms also included a neutrally charged particle composed of a proton and an electron attached by solid forces. He developed the name “neutron,” which is now widely used for these neutrally charged particles.

Who Was the Discoverer of Neutrons?

Neutrons were discovered by Sir James Chadwick, a British physicist, in 1932, according to historical records. It is vital to remember that Ernest Rutherford was the first person to propose the concept of the neutron in the year 1920. This achievement won him the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1935, which he obtained due to his discovery.

What was the process through which neutrons were discovered?

James Chadwick used a polonium source to fire alpha radiation at a beryllium sheet, then destroyed it. Non-charged, penetrating radiation was produced as a result of this process. He created this radiation incident on paraffin wax, a hydrocarbon with a high hydrogen concentration used in the experiment.

An ionisation chamber made it possible to detect the protons emitted from the paraffin wax (when the uncharged radiation hit it). He discovered that protons could be released in a wide variety of frequencies by Chadwick, who also investigated how the uncharged radiation interacted with the molecules of many gases.

He concluded that the exceptionally penetrating radiation consisted of uncharged particles with (roughly) the same mass as a proton. This was the source of the highly competent radiation, and neutrons were the name of these particles later on.

Who was the first to develop an atomic theory?

The ancient Greek philosophers Leucippus and Democritus were the first to propose the old atomic hypothesis, dating back to the 5th century BC. It was resurrected in the first century BC by the Roman philosopher and poet Lucretius, who brought it up to speed with contemporary knowledge.

History of Atoms

Who was the person who named the atom?

Democritus. However, it is necessary to go back to 400 BC to understand the term “atom.” There was also Democritus, a famous philosopher responsible for the invention of the Greek term atoms, which means uncuttable. Therefore, according to him, he may reduce all matter to discrete, microscopic particles known as atoms. He believes that this is possible.


Register with Vedantu and download the mobile application on your smartphone to your computer or mobile device of choice to study more about the discovery of protons, neutrons, and other subatomic particles.

Salman Zafar

Your Thoughts

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.