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Physics > Atomic and Molecular Structure > Difference Between Atoms and Molecules
Atomic and Molecular Structure

Difference Between Atoms and Molecules

Introduction to Difference Between Atoms and Molecules

Difference between atoms and molecules certainly exists. Atom refers to the smallest constituent unit of a chemical element. Molecules refer to a group of two or more atoms that are held together due to chemical bonds.

Atom and molecule are two very familiar words. In this topic, firstly we will discuss what are atoms and molecules and after that, we discuss the difference between atoms and molecules.

difference between atoms and molecules

Atoms and Molecules Definition and Meaning

Atom refers to the tiniest particle of an element or compound that is not visible to naked eye. Furthermore, it may or may not exist independently. Besides, it is made up of the nucleus (protons and neutrons) and electrons. Moreover, it has a spherical shape.

In addition, the nucleus of the atom is positively charged and is surrounded by a negatively charged electron. Moreover, the proton and neutrons group together in the nucleus. Furthermore, the protons and neutrons have almost equal masses.

For example- N, H, He, O, K, etc.

Molecule refers to the set of two or more atoms that come together by a bond. Furthermore, they indicate the smallest component of a compound. In addition, they exist in a free state. Also, they comprise two or more identical or non-identical atoms bonded chemically.

Also, the electrons of the molecule can interact with one other and this attraction results in a chemical bond. Most noteworthy, in the chemical bond the electrons are exchanged between elements and this process is known as a covalent bond.

For example- Co2, NaCl, HCl, NO2, O3, etc.

Every chemistry has a basic question in mind which is, what is the difference between atoms and molecules?

Difference Between Atoms and Molecules Chart

Basis Atom Molecule
Meaning They are tiny particles of an element that can or cannot occur freely. Molecule is a set of atoms that came together by a bond. Also, they are the smallest unit of a compound.
Existence They may or may not exist freely. They exist in a free state.
Contains It contain a nucleus (proton, and neutron) and electron. It contains two or more different or identical elements that bonded together.
Shape They have a spherical shape. They have a triangular, linear or angular shape.
Visibility Not visible to naked eyes and also not to magnifying microscope Not visible to naked eyes but are visible through a magnifying microscope
Reactivity They are highly reactive and subject to certain exceptions It is comparatively less reactive.
Bond It has a nuclear bond. It has a covalent bond.

 

Understanding the Difference between atoms and molecules

We can draw the difference between atoms and molecules clearly on the following grounds:

  • According to science atom is the smallest unit of an element that can or cannot exist freely. While on the other hand, a molecule is a set of atoms that are held together with the help of a bond and is the smallest unit of a compound.
  • Furthermore, an atom can or cannot exist in a free state. Whereas on the other hand, molecules exist in a free state.
  • Moreover, an atom contains a nucleus (made up of neutrons and protons) and electrons. While on the contrary, a molecule is made up of two or more different or identical atoms that are combined chemically.
  • Furthermore, the shape of an atom is spherical. Whereas, the shape of a molecule can be angular, rectangular, triangular, or linear.
  • Most noteworthy, atoms are highly reactive and participate in the chemical reaction without chemical decomposition. On the other hand, a molecule is less reactive and don’t take part in a chemical reaction.
  • In addition, atoms retain nuclear bond, as it involves the electrostatic attraction between the electron and nucleus. On the contrary, molecules have covalent bonds that mean they share electrons with one other to remain bonded.

Solved Question for You

Question. Is Dodecahedrane an element or a compound?

A. Element

B. Neither element nor compound

C. Compound

D. None of the above

Answer. The correct answer is option C. Because its chemical formula is C20H20.

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