- It is important to understand the terms atom and molecule when referring to atomic structure, elements and compounds
Atoms & Molecules Definitions Table
- Elements are made of tiny particles of matter called atoms
- Each atom is made of subatomic particles called protons, neutrons and electrons
- Their size 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 is used
- One relative atomic mass unit is equal to the mass of a carbon-12 atom.
- All other elements are measured relative 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 mass and charge of the subatomic particles are shown below:
The Mass & Charge of Subatomic Particles Table
The mass of an electron can just be stated as ‘negligible’ or ‘very small’ in an exam. You do not need to learn the value.
- You need to know the following terms to describe the properties and characteristics of atoms
Atomic Structure Key Terms Table
The term nucleon number is an alternative to mass number and means the same thing. A nucleon is a collective name for protons and neutrons.