I know I might sound terribly stupid but the idea just hit me. We define elements on the periodic table as "lumps" of matter with specific amount of specific particles (electrons neutrons and protons) We use this table because every different "lump" or atom that has a specific amount of protons has a set of characteristics that is shared among all instances of atoms that have the same number of protons.

Now what if there is,or could be, another form of matter "lumps" that instead of protons have another type of particle (lets say deuterons),that could also give have a set of characteristics to each instance of those lumps with the same amount of "deuterons" , essentially creating another types of "elements"

Im not talking about antimatter here although that could be an answer and if someone has to point me into resources regarding if and what "anti-elements" there are out there I would be glad for that.

TL;DR : different type of elements ,using another particle instead of a proton

  • $\begingroup$ check out the exotic atoms: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exotic_atom I think this is what you mean (using e.g muons to create atoms). $\endgroup$
    – Greg
    Mar 4, 2019 at 17:19

1 Answer 1


Your example with deuterons is unfortunate as they are composed of protons and neutrons and, as such, formally putting deuterons together would just reconstruct the periodic table we know. However, there are atoms with particles other than protons, neutrons and electrons. Two relevant terms to refer to such are exotic atoms and hypernuclei. One of their main properties is that they tend to be extremely unstable, so they have essentially no use in chemistry.

That said, there has been a relatively recent study on muonic helium, which is slightly different from a regular helium atom (two protons and two electrons) in that one of the electrons is replaced with an almost identical subatomic particle, the muon. It behaves like the electron in all aspects, except that it is about 200 times heavier, and decays within microseconds. During its brief existence, the muonic helium atom was observed to behave like a regular hydrogen atom. This is because muons and electrons are distinct subatomic particles and so Pauli's exclusion principle does not apply. The electronic configuration for muonic helium would be $\mathrm{(1s)^1}$ (like hydrogen), and its "muonic" configuration would also be $\mathrm{(1s)^1}$.

Furthermore, the much larger mass of the muon means it spends its time much closer to the nucleus than an electron of similar energy. The electron is so much further out, in fact, that it "sees" the nucleus and the muon as occupying almost the same position, and so the negative charge of the muon almost cancels out the positive charge of one of the protons (technically, the muon provides almost perfect electronic shielding to the valence electron). The lone electron then behaves almost as if it were attached to a single proton, i.e. a hydrogen atom.

So yes, exotic atoms can be qualitatively different from the elements we know, but their investigation and use is certainly limited by their instability.


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