Have you ever questioned yourself about the smallest thing in the world? No, it is not the ants, neither the insects you see. There is something which is smaller than these and is not visible, they are electrons. It was discovered as a particle in 1897 by J. J. Thomson. He had performed the cathode ray experiment to show the presence of electrons. It was named as “electron” by Johnston Stoney in 1894.
Electrons are the smallest and the lightest particle of an atom. An atom consists of protons and neutrons in its nucleus and electrons revolving around it, something similar to our solar system. These electrons carry a negative charge and protons a positive charge. Because of the different charges of the atomic particles, there are three different types of atoms (depending on the balance between the positive and negative particles)
Neutral atoms: Where the numbers of protons are equal to that of electrons and their charges are neutral.
Cation (Positive Ion): The numbers of electrons are less than that of protons, this leads to overall positive charge.
Anion (Negative Ion): The numbers of electrons are more than that of protons, this leads to overall negative charge.
Its mass is 9.1 x 10-31kgs.
Its charge is 1.602 x 10-19 coulombs.
Its mass is about 1/1836 of that of a proton
Electron radius is 2.8176 x 10-15 m.
Electrons play a very important role in many processes in physics like electricity, magnetism and thermal conductivity. Theoretically electrons are believed to have been formed in the universe during the big bang; however modern laboratory experiments like high-energy collisions and beta decay of radioactive isotopes are also found to yield electrons. While this is about their creation, they can be destroyed in the same way through combination with positrons. Standard physics classifies electrons to belong to a group of subatomic particles called leptons and are known to have the lowest mass among charged leptons. Electrons are also known as identical particles as no two electrons can be told from each other by simply deciphering their physical properties. Also like all physical particles, electrons also can act as a wave which is why they exhibit what is called the wave-particle duality.
The various uses of electrons today include plasma applications like Particle beams and imaging. The most common form of particle beam is welding in which electron beams are used to join two or more conductive materials in vacuum. Electron beams are not only used in etching semiconductors, but they are also used in sterilizing food items, in radiation therapy and as particle accelerators and detectors in physics experiments. Other critical uses of electrons include cathode ray tubes which are used in televisions, computer monitors and lab experiment devices.