Part of the Electronics glossary:

A proton is a subatomic particle found in the nucleus of every atom.  The particle has a positive electrical charge, equal and opposite to that of the electron. If isolated, a single proton would have a mass of only 1.673 ? 10-27 kilogram, just slightly less than the mass of a neutron.

The number of protons in an element's nucleus is called the atomic number.  This number gives each element its unique identity.  In the atoms of any particular element, the number of protons in the nuclei is always the same.  An atom of simple hydrogen has a nucleus consisting of a single proton all by itself.  The nuclei of all other elements nearly always contain neutrons in addition to protons.

Protons need not be confined to the nuclei of atoms.  When protons are found outside atomic nuclei, they acquire fascinating, bizarre, and potentially dangerous properties, similar to those of neutrons in similar circumstances.  But protons have an additional property. Because they carry an electric charge, they can be accelerated by electric and/or magnetic fields.  High-speed protons, and atomic nuclei containing them, are emitted in large numbers during solar flares.  The particles are accelerated by the earth's magnetic field, causing ionospheric disturbances known as geomagnetic storms.

This was last updated in May 2008
Posted by: Margaret Rouse

Related Terms

Definitions

  • flash storage

    - Flash storage, based on flash memory, is used for data repositories, storage systems and consumer devices, such as USB drives, smartphones and solid-state drives. Flash-based storage is faster than... (WhatIs.com)

  • media center PC

    - A media center PC is a dedicated computer connected to the user's digital TV. The computer components are typically chosen for characteristics such as low power consumption, low heat dissipation, i... (WhatIs.com)

  • geo-fencing (geofencing)

    - Geo-fencing is a feature in a software program that uses the global positioning system (GPS) or radio frequency identification (RFID) to define geographical boundaries. A geofence is a virtual barr... (WhatIs.com)

Glossaries

  • Electronics

    - Terms related to electronics, including definitions about electrical components and words and phrases about computers, laptops parts, digital cameras, televisions and home appliances.

  • Internet applications

    - This WhatIs.com glossary contains terms related to Internet applications, including definitions about Software as a Service (SaaS) delivery models and words and phrases about web sites, e-commerce ...

Ask a Question. Find an Answer.Powered by ITKnowledgeExchange.com

Ask An IT Question

Get answers from your peers on your most technical challenges

Ask Question
  • Chemistry: What's a Proton?

    Welcome to ITKE, emceeyou! A proton is the subatomic particle that's found in the nucleus of the atom. What's makes the proton so great is that the # of protons in an element's nucleus creates the ...

Tech TalkComment

Share
Comments

    Results

    Contribute to the conversation

    All fields are required. Comments will appear at the bottom of the article.