Difference Between Atom and Isotope

Everything in the world is made of something, from an apple to a human being. Isotope is a type of Atom which have a different number of neutrons.

They are the fundamental building blocks of chemistry and, in general, of everything. “Element” in general is a term that is used to describe a matter that cannot be broken down any further.

Atom vs Isotope

The main difference between an Atom and Isotope is that Isotope is a term that comes in the element of an Atom. In contrast to that, Atoms of the same element with different mass numbers are called Isotopes.

Atom vs Isotope

Atoms are the smallest unit of any matter. Every matter starting from solid to liquid to gas, it’s made of something, and that is called Atom.

Isotopes are Atoms, only with different atomic masses which have the same atomic numbers. They are the same as Atoms with a different number of neutrons.

Comparison Table Between Atom and Isotope

Parameters of ComparisonAtomIsotope
Other nameFragment, MoleculeVariant
Year of discovery450 BC1913
Discovered byDemocritus in 450 B.C and John Dalton in 1800Frederick Soddy
 Used forCan be combined to create materials like crystalOil and gas exploration, nuclear medicine
 Name came fromGreek word AromosGreek word Isos and Topos

What is Atom?

The word Atom came from the Greek word ‘Aromos” which translates into “Atoms”, the term was coined by the Greek philosopher Democritus in 400 BC. There were even some drawings and illustrations of what he thought what an Atom looked like.

An atom is a dense nucleus made up of protons and neutral neutrons. The nucleus is surrounded by electrons that are negatively charged.

The general structure of an Atom includes:

1. A nucleus is in the centre of the atom.

2. The nucleus includes positively charged protons.

The process of electronic tunnelling is used in different microscopes to see Atoms. The machine was built by GERD Binning and Heinrich Rohrer in the 70s.


What is Isotope?

The name came from Greek roots “Isos” and “topos” translating into “the same place”. As a fact, The charge on the proton and electron are exactly the same size but opposite and thus cancel each other out. There are two main types of Isotopes:

  1. Stable Isotopes: Elements with the same number of protons but a different number of neutrons.
  2. Unstable Isotopes: These Isotopes decay over time and form into another different Isotope.

Simply defined, Isotopes are the Atoms of the same element which have the same number of protons as them but a different number of neutrons. The most common use for Isotopes is for nuclear power generation.


Main Differences Between Atom and Isotope 

  1. The number of neutrons can change in an Atom, but in an Isotope, the number can’t.
  2. Isotopes have higher or bigger masses compared to Atoms since the number of neutrons is different.
Difference Between Atom and Isotope


Atom and Isotope are elements of the smallest thing in the world. They both belong in the chemistry world and are the root of this field.

Everything in the world is made of a thing, the same thing actually, some elementsWhether it be a newborn baby or a piece of ice, these particular elements are called Atoms and Isotopes.


  1. https://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/ja9031083
  2. https://books.google.co.in/books?hl=en&lr=&id=SakNcRLKB34C&oi=fnd&pg=PA37&dq=atom+and+isotope&ots=jNsUBf-WF8&sig=yk1cVhBS9SwlwGNMFKf1FbRIeO8

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