Atoms, molecules and ions FacebookTwitterWhatsAppPrint

The atom is the basic unit of matter, molecules are the result of the union of two or more atoms (that is, the molecule is a conformation of atoms) and the ion is an electrically charged particle made up of an atom or molecule that it is not neutral.

DefinitionIt is the basic unit of matter, the smallest amount of matter that retains the chemical properties of the element.A molecule is the result of the union of two or more atoms.An ion, be it a molecule or an atom, is an electrically charged particle (it is not neutral).
ExamplesHydrogen, Nitrogen, Carbon, Calcium, among othersWater, Chlorophyll, GlucoseAnions, Cations, among others.

Definition of atom

One possible definition of atoms is to understand them as the basic unit of matter, the elemental building blocks of the universe . However, their most adequate explanation lies in understanding them as the least amount of matter that retains the chemical properties of the element.

For example, if we take an element from the periodic table at random, such as Calcium (Ca), and divide it so many times to the point that it can no longer be divided without losing the properties that characterize it as Calcium, we are in the presence of an atom of said element.

Atoms are composed of a central nucleus, with neutrons and protons; in addition to an electronic cloud, where the electrons that surround the nucleus are found.

Examples of atoms

So far we can say that there are as many atoms as elements are perceived in the periodic table. For example, Hydrogen, which is number one, is the simplest atom in the universe, existing in excess and made up of a proton and an electron.

Helium is the second most abundant element in the universe and number two on the periodic table. It is made up of two electrons orbiting around a nucleus containing two protons along with one or two neutrons.

The most important elements to organic life in general and human life in the singular are Oxygen, with an atomic number of eight and a number of eight protons, electrons and protons; and Carbon, which has six electrons, protons, and neutrons. Regarding the electrons of the latter, six of them are in the outermost shell, which form a bond with other atoms, giving rise to molecules.

Definition of molecules

A molecule is the result of the union of two or more atoms . They are the electrons found in the outermost shell of the atom, called valence electrons, which make bonds with other atoms, giving rise to molecules. Therefore, when we speak of molecules we are referring to a compound of atoms, a higher level on the scale of substances.

Therefore, the molecule is the smallest part of the mentioned substance. Those that are composed of two atoms are diatomic ones, such as molecular oxygen O2, nitrogen from air N2 or chlorine gas Gl2.

However, there are also molecules made up of a multitude of atoms. For example, chlorophyll is made up of 55 carbon atoms, 72 hydrogen atoms, one magnesium atom, four nitrogen atoms, and five oxygen atoms. We are talking about a total of 137 atoms.

Examples of molecules

There are a multitude of molecules in a universe that a priori seems indeterminate (you cannot make the statement that it is infinite, although it seems that way). If the most abundant atom of it is Hydrogen, then we can say that the diatomic molecule like H2 is at the molecular level, being also the simplest. It is made up of two covalently bonded Hydrogen atoms, that is, the electrons are shared by both atoms.

Water, so expensive for our life and for many other organisms, is a molecule, the famous H2O, called triatomic, since it is made up of three atoms. Another good example is Glucose, which is a type of sugar, made up of six Carbon atoms, twelve Hydrogen atoms and six Oxygen atoms.

Definition of ion

An ion, as we have already announced, is an electrically charged particle, that is, its constitution, be it atomic or molecular, is not neutral from that point of view . The concept is quite clear: from a neutral state of a molecule or atom, electrons have been gained or lost. This is the phenomenon known as ionization.

So when an atom loses or gains electrons, the species formed, then, is an ion. When the electron is negatively charged, if one or more electrons are added to a neutral atom, a negatively charged ion is formed. Losing electrons produces a positively charged ion. It is important to remember that protons do not change when an atom becomes an ion.

Examples of ions

There are several examples of ions such as anions, which are negative ions. There are also the cations that have positive ions, which make up most of the metals.

A dianion represents a type of ion with two negative charges and there is also a zwitterion which is an ion with a net charge equal to zero (with two isolated charges on the same species, one negative and one positive, therefore it is neutral).

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