An electron is a fundamental subatomic particle that belongs to the family of leptons. It carries a negative electric charge and is one of the primary constituents of atoms. Electrons are extremely lightweight compared to protons and neutrons, with a mass approximately 1/1836th that of a proton.

In an atom, electrons exist in distinct energy levels or orbitals, surrounding the positively charged nucleus. The behavior of electrons is described by quantum mechanics, which considers them to possess both particle-like and wave-like properties. This dual nature allows electrons to exhibit characteristics such as wave interference and quantized energy levels.

Electrons play a crucial role in various physical phenomena and chemical reactions. They participate in the formation of chemical bonds, determining the chemical properties of elements and compounds. Moreover, their movement and interaction with electromagnetic fields are responsible for electricity, magnetism, and electrical conductivity in materials.

Electrons are not confined to atoms alone. They can also exist as free particles, detached from any specific atom, in certain conditions. Free electrons are essential in conducting materials, such as metals, where they can move freely and carry electric current.

Understanding the behavior of electrons has led to significant advancements in fields like electronics, telecommunications, and solid-state physics. Their precise control and manipulation have paved the way for technologies like transistors, microchips, and electron microscopy, revolutionizing various aspects of modern life.

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