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10 Major Differences Between Atom and Molecule You Should Know

Filed in Education by on March 24, 2020

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10 Major Differences between Atom and Molecule

Difference between Atom and Molecule: If you look around, you will find out that there are millions of objects all around you and each of them is composed of molecules, which is a combination of two or more atoms bonded together. What is the difference between atoms and molecules is the basic question that arises in the mind of every scholar of chemistry.

10 Major Differences between Atom and Molecule

Atom and Molecule

Atoms and molecules are present in all objects and living things. The piece and thickness levels shift the thickness and type of items. In gases, the molecules are very loosely packed so the molecules can stream around effectively without impacting. In fluids, the pressing is more conservative thus the particles are in every case together.

A molecule is the smallest piece of a substance that still has all the properties of a substance.   You can break down the molecules further into multiple atoms, but those will have different properties from the original substance.

Molecules are usually made up of two or more smaller structures called atoms. These atoms share electrons or exchange electrons in order to be held together. The bonding takes place between the particles in the outer shell of an atom.


An atom is the smallest particle in an element that has the properties of the element. It is practically possible to breakdown the atom further holding the properties of the component. Atoms are not seen by the naked eye and are the basic building blocks.

An atom has a nucleus surrounded by electrons. The electrons are negatively charged particles. The nucleus contains neutrons and positively charged protons.

The substructure of an atom comprises a nucleus containing positive protons and neutral neutrons, surrounded by a “cloud” of negative electrons in constant motion, whose quantized energies and spatial distribution.


A molecule is a small unit of matter, which exists in a free state and represents the chemical properties of the substance. However, when two or more atoms are extremely close to each other, such that the electrons of the atoms can interact with one another, resulting in an attraction between the atoms, called a chemical bond.

The chemical bond takes place as a result of the exchange of electrons between atoms, specifically known as a covalent bond. So, when two or more atoms are clustered together as a single unit, with the help of a covalent bond, it forms a molecule.

If one or more identical atoms exist as a unit, independently, it is known as a molecule of an element, but if two or more varying elements are grouped together in a fixed proportion, by mass, to create a unit that exists freely, is termed as a molecule of a compound.

Example: H2O, CO2, NO2, CH4

Notable Distinctions between Atom and Molecule

1. An atom is the tiny particle of a chemical element, which may or may not exist independently, is called an atom. Molecules refer to the set of atoms held together by bond, indicating the smallest unit of a compound.

2. Molecule exists in a free state. Atoms may or may not exist in a free state.

3. An atom is made up of a nucleus and electrons. Molecule is composed of two or more, identical or different atoms, bonded chemically.

4. Molecule varies in shape; from linear to angular to triangular while an atom is always spherical in shape.

5. Both atoms and molecules aren’t visible through naked eyes, but a molecule can be seen with the help of a magnifying microscope.

6. Atoms are highly reactive while molecules a relatively less reactive.

7. Atoms are held together by nuclear bond while molecules are covalently bonded.

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