3 Proton Uses in Everyday Life – Theory and Chemistry Basic Concepts

The study about atom is really important in chemistry, especially the basic understanding about Proton, Electron and Neutron. Atom is the basic particle in the element. An atom will determine the special properties of certain element. We know that atom consists of proton, electron and neutron. These three parts have its own properties and uses. This article will specially cover the proton uses and its basic concept.

You may also read:

Basic Theory of Proton

Before talking about proton, we should understand the chemistry models of atoms first. The structure of atom is divided into 2 main parts which are nucleus and electrons. Nucleus is the center mass of an atom. Nucleus is the location of protons and neutrons. Proton is the atom particle which possess the positive charge. Proton has the heavier weight than electron. It has the mass of 1.6726 X 10-27 kg, while electron only has mass of  9.1095 x 10-31 kg. Proton was firstly discovered by famous chemist, Ernest Rutherford. He performed the laboratory experiments to search and study for this part of atom.

Chemical Properties of Proton

As we mentioned before, proton has the positive charge, while electron has the negative charge and neutron has neutral or zero charge. Proton is really important in the atom structure. This part will determine the characteristic of atom which will then define the properties of certain element.

As an example, the carbon atoms have the six protons and hydrogen atoms have one proton. We can see that different element will have different amount of protons. We call the amount of protons in the atom as atomic number. Atomic number has the symbol of Z. This number will define the special characteristic of atom both physically and chemically. The atoms in the same type element will always possess the same number of protons.

The number of protons along with number of neutrons also define the chemical properties of atom. The sum of proton and neutrons numbers is called as atomic mass. The atomic mass has the different characteristic than atomic number. While the atoms in same element must have same atomic number, the atomic mass may differ. It means that the atoms have the same number of protons, but different amount of neutron. We call this atoms as the isotopes. The example of isotopes is hydrogen element. Its isotopes are protium, deuterium and tritium. Here’re their differences:

  • Protium: has 1 proton, 1 neutron, 1 electron
  • Deuterium: has 1 proton, 1 neutron, 1 electron
  • Tritium: has 1 proton, 2 neutron, 1 electrons.

We can see although they’re in the same hydrogen element, they may have different atomic mass (different number of neutrons).

You may also read: Differences between Acid, Base and Salt

1. Proton Uses in Atom Structure

In its relation to atomic structure, proton plays the important role, aside from electron and neutron. At least, there are 4 proton uses in term of atomic structure.

1. Protons keep the nucleus intact. As we explain previously, nucleus consists of proton and neutron. So, the existence of proton will make the nucleus complete.

2. Protons define the atomic number. We have mentioned about this part above. As an example, hydrogen has the atomic number (Z) of 1. It means that hydrogen atoms have proton number of 1.

3. Protons give the balance in the atom, as its positive charge will balance electron’s negative charge. We know that atom consists of 3 different charges which are positive, negative and neutral charges. Protons represent the positive charge, while electrons represent negative charge. Neutron itself has zero charge or neutral charge

4. Proton also define the atomic mass. We also have explained this point in the section above. The sum of proton numbers and neutron numbers will determine the mass of atom.

2. Proton Uses as Proton Therapy

Another good proton uses is the proton therapy. Proton theraphy is the kind of external beam radiation which is more precise. This therapy uses the ion radiation radiation to kill tumors. The proton therapy is more preferable than the conventional radiation using X-ray because the therapy can specifically target the tumors instead of killing the healthy tissue.

The accuracy is vital because the wrong radiation to healthy tissue can cause unwanted effects. Proton therapy is suitable for patient of cancers, including breast cancer. We know that cancer patient will undergo many kind of radiation therapies to treat their disease. Since the proton therapy is more effective, this can be the good alternative for those cancer patients.

How Proton Therapy works?

This proton therapy works by shooting the tumors with beam of protons. This beam is generated by particle accelerator. This beam will target the tumors inside the patient’s body.  Protons which contain positive charge particles will attack the cell DNA and then stop the reproduction of that cell. Cancer cells is the easy target for proton because those cells possess high division and low ability to repair their DNA.

The dose of proton radiation can be controlled to adjust the shape and exact location of the tumor. The tumors having higher depth need the greater energy, so the particle accelerator must create higher rate of proton beam. The beam will be focused on the target tumor based on the adjustment of tumor shape and depth. This makes proton therapy more precise and effective than the conventional X-Ray radiation.

The proton therapy fortunately is comfortable to the patient. While undergoing the therapy, the patient will feel almost nothing due to proton beam shooting, hear less noise and less discomfort. The therapy will take up to 20 minutes. Each proton beam will occur about one minute in one location of radiation. After the therapy, the patient can still continue their activities.

Proton Therapy Application

Proton uses in this therapy is best for those who have the solid tumors which have not widely spread to the body. If the tumors have spread to large area in patient body, especially if it’s near the sensitive normal tissue, so it requires the high dose of proton beam radiation. In general, proton therapy is well-suited for patient in the two main types:

1. The First Theory 

The first category is the disease which has better respond as the dose of radiation is increased. We have mentioned on the section above that medical practitioner can adjust the dose of proton beam to precisely kill the tumors in the patient. This way can be more effective and efficient than the conventional x-ray radiation. The diseases in this category are uveal melanoma or ocular tumors, undresectable sarcomas, skull base & paraspinal tumors (chondrosarcoma and chordoma).

Patients with these diseases show the great result with the proton therapy. The control of proton beam can successfully kill the tumors. Even patient of ocular tumors reported that proton therapy can be beneficial in maintaining their natural eye capability.

2. The Second Theory 

The second category is disease which shows the less side effects because of the enhanced precision of proton treatment. Just like we mentioned previously, the control of proton beam dose can improve the precision of target so that i will not affect the other tissues. As the this therapy increase its precision, so the chance that other healthy tissues get the bad impacts becomes less. The patient obviously don’t want to damage the healthy tissues because they take the radiation process.

In this category, proton therapy may have the same effectiveness as conventional radiation in curing the disease, but proton therapy significantly reduces the possibility to create side effects to healthy tissues. The example of this type is pediatric neoplasm and prostate cancer. Report in 2004 showed that the patient of pediatric neoplasm didn’t get significant medical benefits due to proton therapy.

You may also read:

3. Proton Uses for Prostate Cancer

Based on statistic, most of proton therapy is used for curing prostate cancer. Research in 2003 showed that 26% of proton therapy are for prostate cancer patient. In prostate cancer patients, medical practitioners found the different result regarding the proton treatment. Some researches believed that the proton therapy has better effect in decreasing the long term rectal and urinary damage compared to conventional x-ray or gamma ray treatment.

Some other studies revealed that proton beam only gives little effect to patient. This small enhancement can be considered as the result of inconsistency patient condition and other causes, so that the proton doesn’t give higher impact than the x-ray or gamma does. However, it’s clear that the proton therapy can improve the precision in that prostate cancer treatments.

You may also read:

Risk and Side Effects of Proton Uses

Just like other form of external beam radiotherapy, proton treatment also contain the possible risks and side effects. Radiation therapy always gives the possible side effects to the normal tissues. We know that the previous radiation therapy that uses photon like x-ray and gamma therapy can possibly damage the healthy tissue near the targeted tumors.

However, as we mentioned before, proton therapy has better precision than the conventional radiation therapy. The possibility in creating the damage effect to healthy is greatly decreased in proton therapy. Proton therapy has been used to cure diseases for about 40 years which means that this treatment should have been mature enough with well-established technology.

However, there still some miss-understanding about the relationship between radiation treatment with the tumor and healthy tissues. Doctors and all medical practitioners are always conducting study to have perfect understanding about radiation therapy to human diseases.

You may also read:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.