What is an Electron

These are particles in the atom and carry a negative change. Being bound to an atom’s nucleus by electromagnetic forces, it orbits it all through. Its weight is so small that even the smallest atom cannot compare, it is about a thousandth in weight when compared. It is the basic unit of everything in nature and cannot be broken down further. They are categorized as leptons; these are particles that cannot be broken down any further. They do have antiparticles known as positrons; these are positively charged electrons with the same mass and behavior as the negatively charged ones.

Characteristics of electrons

  • Electrons have been observed to exhibit wavy action.
  • They carry an electric charge of−1.6022 × 10−19 coulomb.
  • It is symbolized as e-
  • Described as a fermions having a half integer spin therefore the 1 / 2 spin.
  • In the atoms, electrons are bound close to the nucleus by electromagnetic forces where they orbit.
  • Free electrons are those that move freely without any bond to the atom and can be used in electron beams.

History of electrons

  • First discovered in 1898 by Sir John Joseph Thomson at Cambridge University in the Cavendish Laboratory, the electron has been put to use in so many applications since. ‘Cathode Rays’ had puzzled him for long so he was investigating.
  • He called the streams of particles corpuscles, and noted that they were much smaller than atoms; however he wrongly thought they made up the atom.
  • His ideas were very controversial at that time since most scientists believed the atom was the smallest particle ever and that it could not be broken down or divided.
  • His theory was latter proven after many experiments by him and other. He proved that the ‘Cathode Rays’ were made of electrons, very small negatively charged particles.

Applications of the electron

  • The most common is electric current we use for electronics world over. Free electrons play a big part in the generation of electric current.
  • The television depends on electrons in order to function in producing graphics.
  • The mutual repulsion of electrons allows us to stand on flat surfaces without sinking. The electrons on the ground repel those under our shoes and feet keeping us on top.
  • The electron microscope that is very fundamental in science and research uses electron beams to cast an image. This permits visibility in ranges that optical microscopes cannot therefore extend our vision.


The discovery of the electron was a great achievement in science. It has done so much to the daily life of human beings and helped make great advances scientifically with the electron microscope among other appliances.