As you might have guessed, this post is all about atoms, elements, compounds and mixtures; the basic building blocks of our world. I wont babble on for to long, so lets get straight into it!
Atoms make up everything around us. Without atoms nothing would exist. Whilst they often come individually, they can come in pairs or groups as well, these are called molecules and will be explained in the next section. There are three parts to an atom; the proton, the neutron and the electron. The proton gives off a positive charge from the centre of the atom (the nucleus) whilst the electron has a negative charge, therefore cancelling each other out to make the atom electrically neutral. Electrons can be both lost and gained and when they do the atom becomes an ion. There are two types of ion; the first is made when the atom loses an electron, it becomes a positively charged ion because there is nothing to cancel out the positively charged proton. But when it gains an electron, it becomes a negatively charged ion because there are more electrons than the amount that is needed to cancel out the positively charged proton. The smallest individual atom is the hydrogen atom. If we were to be more scientific, we could say that it had the smallest atomic mass. Its atomic mass is only 1, compared to the heaviest atom on the periodic table: Ununhexium (Uuh) with an atomic mass of 116. To put it into contrast of how small they are, we inhale 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 atoms of oxygen every time we breathe!
The next bit will be on elements (I am trying to keep the order of the title)…
An element is made when one or more of the same type of atom are combined. They cannot be made by different atoms. For example pure gold and pure carbon are made of only gold and carbon atoms which means that all types of elements are unique. Some elements are made by joining up with identical versions of themselves whilst others are single atoms. When an atom joins up with another of its type it becomes a molecule, but we haven’t come to that just yet. There are over 100 elements on our planet that we currently know of. Hydrogen is the smallest individual element despite it being made of two atoms.
Now comes compounds…
A compound is made when two different atoms/elements bond to make one. For example, water is not on the periodic table and is made by 1 oxygen atom and 2 hydrogen atoms, this is shown as H2O. Other compounds include carbon dioxide(CO2) and carbon monoxide(CO) and sodium chloride(NaCl). One of the most important things about a compound is that they are BONDED. This means they are chemically joined to make something else.
And finally… Oh well you get the point!
A mixture is made when two or more atoms are mixed together, but not bonded. They can be separated without a chemical reaction, like fruit in a fruit salad; together they make something but when you separate them they have their own individual properties. Another feature of a mixture is that you can vary the amount of each element, whilst in a compound you can either make more or less of it but you cannot change its formula. They can be useful when making medicines because you can change the power of it.
I hope that this was helpful, and that you learnt from me. As always, if there is anything I missed out I would appreciate it if you told me by commenting on this post, because I can learn from you as much as you can learn from me!