Calculating Relative Atomic Mass from Isotopes
- The size of atoms is so tiny that we can’t really compare their masses in conventional units such as kilograms or grams, so a unit called the relative atomic mass (Ar) is used.
- The relative atomic mass unit is equal to ½ the mass of a carbon-12 atom.
- All other elements are measured by comparison to the mass of a carbon-12 atom and since these are ratios, the relative atomic mass has no units.
- Hydrogen for example has a relative atomic mass of 1, meaning that 12 atoms of hydrogen would have exactly the same mass as 1 atom of carbon.
- The relative atomic mass of each element is calculated from the mass number and relative abundances of all the isotopes of a particular element.
- The equation below is used where the top line of the equation can be extended to include the number of different isotopes of a particular element present.
- So if there were 3 isotopes present then the top line of the equation would read:
(% of isotope A x mass of isotope A) + (% of isotope B x mass of isotope B) + (% of isotope C x mass of isotope C)
The table shows information about the Isotopes in a sample of rubidium with 72% 85Rb and 28% 87Rb
Use information from the table to calculate the relative atomic mass of this sample of Rubidium. Give your answer to one decimal place:
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Morgan’s passion for the Periodic Table begun on his 10th birthday when he received his first Chemistry set. After studying the subject at university he went on to become a fully fledged Chemistry teacher, and now works in an international school in Madrid! In his spare time he helps create our fantastic resources to help you ace your exams.