Pocket Genius Science: Matter and materials – Molecules

Facts At Your Fingertips: Matter and materials – Molecules

Most atoms do not exist on their own, but bond with other atoms—either ones of their own type or of another element—to form molecules.

Atoms join together by sharing their electrons, a process known as chemical bonding.

Simple molecules

The natural state of oxygen is nearly always as a molecule, not an atom. An oxygen molecule is made up of two oxygen atoms, chemically bonded together.

The oxygen in the air consists of molecules, not single atoms.

Complex molecules

A sulfur molecule is made up of eight sulfur atoms bonded together in a ring. The structure of a molecule can be shown by a formula.

For example, sulfur has the chemical symbol S and is made up of eight atoms, so its chemical formula is S8.

Different arrangements

Atoms of some elements can join together in different ways to create different substances.

For example, carbon atoms can join together in sheets to form graphite or in a lattice shape to form diamond.

Complex chains

Some molecules are simple, containing just a few atoms.

Others are very complex and may have hundreds or even thousands of atoms joined together in long chainlike structures, such as those in a vitamin A molecule.