1a. A comparison of the sizes of particles we are dealing with in chemistry

Doc Brown's Chemistry: Chemical Bonding and structure GCSE/IGCSE/O/IB/AS/A US grade 9-12 Level Revision Notes


In chemical bonding we are dealing with the formation of ions and molecules, so how big are these particles?

It is difficult to imagine the 'tiny' size of the particles that we and everything around us is made of.

Atoms and small molecules like water are around a million times smaller than the width of a human hair!

Most molecules and ions you will come across in your chemistry studies are 100 000 times smaller than the cells in your body.

A comparison data table of particle sizes/dimensions

Examples of dimensions of typical atoms, molecules and other 'things'!

material carbon atom water molecule sodium ion iron atom chloride ion ethane molecule glucose molecule typical small protein molecule typical bacteria cell typical eukaryotic cell width of a  human hair
symbol-formula C H2O Na+ Fe Cl C2H6 C6H12O6 - - - -
diameter or width in nm 0.16 0.20 0.20 0.25 0.36 0.4 0.3 x 0.6 ~5 5000 50000 ~100000
longest length or diameter in m 1.6 x 10-10 2 x

10-10

2 x

10-10

2.5 x

 10-10

3.6 x

10-10

4.4 x

10-10

6 x

10-10

~5 x 10-9 5 x 10-6 5 x 10-5 ~1.0 x 10-4
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What next?

Recommend next: The periodic table, electron configurations and chemical bonding

 

Sub-index for: Part 1 Introduction to chemical bonding - why? how? and patterns

 

Index for ALL chemical bonding and structure notes

 

Perhaps of interest?

Atomic structure

 

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