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Difference Between Ion and Isotope

Ion vs Isotope

All matter is composed of atoms which are made up of negatively charged electrons surrounding a central nucleus. The nucleus is formed with positively charged protons and neutral neutrons while the electrons are held together by an electromagnetic force.

An atom which may be negatively or positively charged is called an ion. An ion is formed when there is an electron deficiency or excess; in which case a deficiency would mean a positively charged atom or ion while an excess would mean a negatively charged atom or ion. This excess or deficiency would result in a total number of electrons that is not equal to the total number of protons in the nucleus and causes the atom to emit an electrical charge.

An ion may consist of a single atom and is called an atomic or monatomic ion, or it may consist of several atoms and is called a molecular or polyatomic ion. Ions are commonly found in nature. They are produced in a solid, liquid, or gas state. They occur in lightning, electrical sparks, and flames in their gas state, and in their solid or liquid state they occur when salts interact with solvents such as the case of ions in saltwater.

They give gemstones their colors through the absorption of light by metal ions, and they provide the sun with luminescence. Aside from this, they are important in biochemistry and the breakdown of adenosine triphosphate (ATP).

The word “ion” was given by English physicist Michael Faraday to a certain species which uses an aqueous medium in transferring between electrodes. It comes from the Greek word “iov” which means “going.”

The word “isotope,” on the other hand, comes from the Greek word “for at the same place” which was suggested by Margaret Todd to Frederick Soddy who discovered it while he was studying the radioactive decay chains between uranium and lead.

In an atom, there are different numbers of protons and neutrons. Its chemical element is established by the number of protons while the isotope of the element is established by the number of neutrons that it has.

An isotope exists when there is a deficiency or excess of neutrons in an atom. The atoms in a certain element must have the same number of protons but may have different numbers of neutrons. This causes an element to have several isotopes which have similar chemical properties and behavior. There are two classifications of isotopes: stable and unstable. Stable isotopes are those that are not automatically decaying. Unstable isotopes are those that are automatically decaying and emit ionizing radiation.


1.Ions are positively or negatively charged atoms while isotopes are different variations of atoms in an element.
2.Ions exist when there is a deficiency or excess of electrons in an atom while isotopes exist when there is a deficiency or excess of neutrons in an atom.
3.Isotopes may be stable (not automatically decaying) or unstable (automatically decaying) while ions may be atomic (consisting of a single atom) or molecular (consisting of several atoms).

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