The atomic number or proton number of a chemical element is the number of protons found in the nucleus of an atom of that element. It is identical to the number of the nucleus. The atomic number identifies a chemical element. In an uncharged atom, the number is also equal to the number of electrons. The atomic number Z, should not be confused with the mass number A and this number of neutrons, N, completes the weight, A = Z + N. Atoms with the atomic number Z but different neutron numbers N. Historically, it was these atomic weights of elements that were the quantities measurable by chemists in the 19th century. Only after 1915, with the suggestion and evidence that this Z number was also the nuclear charge, loosely speaking, the existence or construction of a periodic table of elements creates an ordering of the elements, and so they can be numbered in order. Dmitri Mendeleev claimed that he arranged his first periodic tables in order of atomic weight, however, in consideration of the elements observed chemical properties, he changed the order slightly and placed tellurium ahead of iodine. This placement is consistent with the practice of ordering the elements by proton number, Z. A simple numbering based on periodic table position was never entirely satisfactory and this central charge would thus be approximately half the atomic weight. This proved eventually to be the case, the experimental position improved dramatically after research by Henry Moseley in 1913. To do this, Moseley measured the wavelengths of the innermost photon transitions produced by the elements from aluminum to gold used as a series of movable anodic targets inside an x-ray tube. The square root of the frequency of these photons increased from one target to the next in an arithmetic progression and this led to the conclusion that the atomic number does closely correspond to the calculated electric charge of the nucleus, i. e. the element number Z. Among other things, Moseley demonstrated that the series must have 15 members—no fewer. After Moseleys death in 1915, the numbers of all known elements from hydrogen to uranium were examined by his method. There were seven elements which were not found and therefore identified as still undiscovered, from 1918 to 1947, all seven of these missing elements were discovered. By this time the first four transuranium elements had also been discovered, in 1915 the reason for nuclear charge being quantized in units of Z, which were now recognized to be the same as the element number, was not understood
An explanation of the superscripts and subscripts seen in atomic number notation. Atomic number is the number of protons, and therefore also the total positive charge, in the atomic nucleus.
Russian chemist Dmitri Mendeleev created a periodic table of the elements that ordered them numerically by atomic weight, yet occasionally used chemical properties in contradiction to weight.
Niels Bohr's 1913 Bohr model of the atom required van den Broek's atomic number of nuclear charges, and Bohr believed that Moseley's work contributed greatly to the acceptance of the model.