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Atomic Structure

An atom of an element can be described using two numbers: The atomic number is the smaller of the two numbers , and it corresponds to the number of protons in the nucleus of an atom of that element.

mass number


atomic number

K 19



The mass number is the larger of the two numbers and is the total number of nucleons, both protons and neutrons, in the nucleus. These make up the mass of the atom because electrons weigh very little. The Periodic Table is organised in atomic number order.

The number of neutrons can be found by subtracting the atomic number from the mass number e.g. for potassium: neutrons = (39 19) = 20

Atoms of the same element must have the same number of protons if they didnt theyd be different elements ! They must also have the same number of electrons if they didnt the positive and negative charges wouldnt balance, and theyd be ions not atoms ! Atoms of the same element can have different numbers of neutrons, however. This means that atoms of the same element can have different masses, but all their other properties are the same. We call atoms of the same element with different numbers of neutrons (and therefore different masses) ISOTOPES.

Hydrogen has three different isotopes: 1 1

2 1

3 1

Tritium key-fobs glow in the dark

1 proton 1 proton 0 neutrons 1 neutron also known as Deuterium Back to list of topics

End of Structure of Atoms

1 proton 2 neutrons Tritium

Carry on to Electronic Structure

Relative Formula Mass Atoms have mass each atom has a mass which depends on how many protons and neutrons it has in its nucleus (electrons weigh almost nothing). You can find the mass of an atom by looking up its relative atomic mass, Ar, in the periodic table. N.B. Some mass numbers are fractions, because these mass numbers are averages for the different isotopes these atoms have. DONT round these fractions up to whole numbers ! e.g. chlorine has a mass of 35.5 NOT 36 ! When atoms are chemically bonded to form elements or compounds, we add together the masses of the atoms from which they are made, according to the molecular formula. This means you have to be confident about what formulae mean. We call this the RELATIVE FORMULA MASS (or Mr) e.g. carbon dioxide formula = CO2 1 x carbon atom 2 x oxygen atoms mass = 12 mass = 2 x 16 Mr 12 + 32 = 44 relative atomic mass

35.5 17



% Composition (% by mass) Now we know the masses of the different atoms in a compound, we can work out what percentage of mass comes from each different type of atom. We are calculating % by mass.

For example: what is the percentage by mass, of carbon in carbon dioxide ?

Ar of carbon = 12 Mr of carbon dioxide (CO2) = 44

% by mass of carbon

12 x 100 44

= 27.3%

Sometimes there is more than one atom of the element we are interested in, for example to work out the percentage of oxygen in MgCO3: Ar of oxygen = 16 Mr of magnesium carbonate = 84 % by mass of oxygen = (24 + 12 + 3 x16) 3 x 16 84 x 100 = 57.1%

Empirical formulae If we know the percentages by mass (i.e. the composition) of a compound, then we can use this to work out its empirical formula (or simplest formula). Remember: The EMPIRICAL formula is the simplest ratio of the numbers of atoms present which may not be the same as the MOLECULAR formula, which is the actual numbers of atoms present in the compound. e.g. substance water ethene glucose molecular formula H2O C2H4 C6H12O6 empirical formula H2O CH2 CH2O

same different different

A substance contains 27.3% carbon and 72.7% oxygen what is its empirical formula ? carbon 27.3 12 2.275 : 1 : 1 : oxygen 72.7 16 4.544 1.997 2

% Ar Ratio Ratio Ratio

write the percentages of each element divide each by the atomic mass of that element divide by smallest (2.275) to get whole numbers round up/down nearly whole numbers write formula CO2

Note: If you are given the percentage of one element in a compound containing two elements, you should be able to work out that the percentage of the second element is 100% take away the percentage of the first.
Note: The method works exactly the same if you have masses rather than percentages of the different elements. Just write the masses down rather than percentages, and follow the same method. Note: Round nearly whole numbers such as 3.002 or 1.997 to whole numbers. BUT if you get a half or nearly half e.g. 2.5 or 2.499 then DONT round it to a whole number, instead DOUBLE the ratios for ALL the elements in the compound

e.g. A sample of 24.0g of iron oxide is found to contain 16.8g of iron. Work out its empirical formula. iron 16.8 56 0.3 1 2 oxygen 7.2 16 0.45 1.5 3
mass of oxygen = total mass (24g) mass of iron (16.8g)

mass Ar Ratio Ratio Ratio

: : :

write the masses of each element divide each by the atomic mass of that element divide by smallest (0.3) to get whole numbers double both, DONT round ! write formula Fe2O3

Reacting Masses

Consider this reaction:

2 H2 + O2 2 H2O

The equation tells us that two hydrogen molecules will react with one oxygen molecule to make water. We need to measure out two hydrogen molecules for each oxygen molecule but they are too small to count out individually ! Lets say we want to react 32g of oxygen. What mass of hydrogen should we weigh out to mix with it ? Chemists measure the AMOUNT OF substances in moles. (A mole is just a very large number of something, like a dozen only much, much bigger). Look again at the equation at the top of the page. It tells us that TWO MOLES of hydrogen will react with ONE MOLE of oxygen. Well get TWO MOLES of water made. Fortunately we CAN measure out moles of something: One mole is defined as the amount of substance you have when you weigh out the relative formula mass of a substance, in grammes. Oxygen molecules (O2) have an Mr = 32. So we weigh out 32g of oxygen, and weve got one mole of oxygen. Now we need two moles of hydrogen. The Mr of hydrogen molecules (H2) = 2, so its is 2g per mole. Well need 4g of hydrogen to react with our 32g of oxygen.

One mole .

of carbon weighs 12g

of sodium metal: 23g

of water weighs 18g and occupies 18cm3

of iodine crystals (I2) weighs 254g

of magnesium weighs 24g

We can calculate how many moles, given a mass, using: moles = mass

M r* *use Ar for single atoms e.g. how many moles of carbon dioxide do we have if we have 660g ? 1: work out Mr of carbon dioxide (CO2) = 12 + 16 + 16 = 44 2: moles = mass Mr = 660 44 = 15 moles

We can also convert numbers of moles back to mass, using:


moles x Mr*

e.g. what is the mass of 0.3 moles of chlorine molecules (Cl2) ? 1: work out Mr of chlorine molecules = 35.5 + 35.5 = 71 2: mass = moles x Mr = 0.3 x 71 = 21.3 g

Remember that chemical equations tell us how many moles of each reactant produce how many moles of each product. Combined with our ability to convert masses to moles and vice versa we can now handle questions which ask us about what masses of reactants to use, or what mass of products would be produced. e.g. Calcium carbonate is attacked by hydrochloric acid. Carbon dioxide gas is one of the products. The equation is: CaCO3 + 2 HCl CaCl2 + H2O + CO2 What mass of hydrochloric acid is needed to react with 5g of calcium carbonate ? Step 1: convert mass of calcium carbonate to moles of calcium carbonate Mr of CaCO3 = 40 + 12 + 16 + 16 + 16 = 100 moles = mass Mr = 5g 100 = 0.05 moles of CaCO3 Step 2: use equation to see how many moles of hydrochloric acid will be needed equation shows 1 mole of CaCO3react with 2 moles of HCl We have 0.05 moles CaCO3 so we need 2 x 0.05 = 0.10 moles HCl Step 3: convert moles of hydrochloric acid to mass Mr of HCl = 1 + 35.5 = 36.5 mass = moles x Mr = 0.10 x 36.5

= 3.65 g of HCl

The steps are always the same. Youll have something you know the mass of, and something you are trying to work out the mass of
Step 1: convert mass of known to moles of known Step 2: use chemical equation to convert moles of known to moles of unknown Step 3: convert moles of unknown to mass of unknown

Another example: What mass of sodium do I need in order to make 186g of sodium oxide ? 4 Na + O2 2 Na2O
In this example, our known is the sodium oxide. We know its mass, and can work out its Mr = 23 + 23 + 16 = 62 (Note that the 2 in front of Na2O isnt part of its formula so isnt part of the relative formula mass !) Step 1: convert mass of Na2O to moles of Na2O moles = mass Mr = 186 62 = 3 moles Step 2: the equation tells us we need 2 moles of Na for every 1 mole of Na2O so well need 6 moles of Na if we want 3 moles of Na2O Step 3: convert moles of Na to mass of Na mass = moles x Ar (Na is a single atom) = 6 x 23 = 138g

% Yield

Using moles we can calculate how much product we expect to be made from our reactants. In reality we dont always manage to collect that much. The amount we actually end up with is called the yield.
Reasons for not getting as much as wed expect include: not all the reactants reacted, some may remain unreacted side reactions - different products beside the ones we expected may be made some reactions are reversible, and do not go to completion product may have been lost in removing and purifying it It is very important for industry to know how efficiently reactions are working. We calculate the % yield: % yield = mass of product actually obtained (g) mass of product expected (g) x 100

The mass of product actually obtained is simply weighed, once the reaction is complete and the product has been separated out, purified and dried etc. The mass of product expected is worked out using a mole calculation similar to those on the previous pages.


Sulphur trioxide reacts with water to form sulphuric acid according to the equation SO3 + H2O H2SO4
80g of sulphur trioxide are bubbled through water. The mass of sulphuric acid produced was 63.7g What was the % yield in this reaction ? We need to calculate the mass of product expected: Step 1: convert mass of SO3 to moles of SO3 (Mr = 80) moles = mass Mr = 80 80 = 1 mole of SO3 Step 2 Step 3 equation tells us 1 mole SO3 makes 1 mole H2SO4 convert 1 mole of H2SO4 to mass of H2SO4 (Mr = 98) mass = moles x Mr = 1 x 98 = 98 grammes expected

Now we can work out the % yield: % yield = actual mass of product x 100 expected mass of product = 63.7 x 100 98 = 65%

Identifying and Analysing Substances

We can either identify substances using their chemical reactions in a series of chemical tests.
Alternatively we can use instrumental methods. The development of modern instrumental methods have been made possible by advances in electronics and computing, and sensor technologies. Advantages: highly accurate rapid analysis sensitive (very small quantities can be analysed e.g. in forensics) Disadvantages: usually very expensive requires specialists to use results may need to be compared with a library of previous results before a match can be found

Chemical Analysis can be used to identify additives in foods. e.g. Paper chromatography can be used to separate different substances such as the colouring additives in food. The solubility of each additive determines how fast it will travel up the chromatography paper when carried along by the solvent, so the components end up being separated, as illustrated below.

Paper chromatography

How to use chromatography: A baseline is drawn in pencil on the chromatography paper and a small spot of the unknown is placed alongside spots of known substances which may be present (these are called references). Each spot is labelled in pencil. The paper is then dipped in the solvent (usually water) and left while the solvent slowly soaks up to the top of the paper, separating the mixture as it goes. Each spot in the finished chromatogram is a different substance (although sometimes substances with similar solubilities produce spots which are overlapping). A match is found when one of the spots in the unknown sample is the same colour and at the same height as a reference spot.


Unknown A

Using chromatography

foods with unknown additives

pure reference samples of additives

In this example two unknown foods have been analysed to see which colouring additives are present. The yellow Brightie was found to contain sunburst yellow only. The orange Brightie was found to contain sunny yellow and solar yellow.

Instrumental methods can also be used to separate mixtures and to identify the components in the mixture.
e.g. Gas chromatography can separate the components in a mixture and mass spectrometry can identify what each of these components is. Used together like this, the method is referred to as GC-MS. GC-MS is increasingly used for detection of illegal narcotics, and may eventually supplant drug-sniffing dogs. It is also commonly used in forensics to find drugs and/or poisons in biological specimens of suspects, victims, or the deceased.

a GC-MS instrument

The sample is injected into the instrument, and passes through the column, where it is separated into the different components. Each component emerges from the capillary at a different time and is then identified in the mass spectrometer.

The output from the GC instrument shows a peak for each substance present in the sample. The size of the peak tells how much of that substance is present.

Here the GC is being used to see how much propanone (acetone) is present in a urine sample. The presence of propanone can indicate diabetes.

The output from the Mass Spectrometer can be used to tell us the Relative Molecular Mass (Mr) of each substance that has been separated from the mixture. The peak furthest to the right in graph from the mass spectrometer is called the molecular ion peak, and has a value which corresponds to Mr. , C3H6O

The relative molecular mass for propanone = 58

molecular ion peak