Science, Tech, Math › Science Avogadro's Number Example Chemistry Problem Share Flipboard Email Print Bettmann / Contributor / Getty Images Science Chemistry Basics Chemical Laws Molecules Periodic Table Projects & Experiments Scientific Method Biochemistry Physical Chemistry Medical Chemistry Chemistry In Everyday Life Famous Chemists Activities for Kids Abbreviations & Acronyms Biology Physics Geology Astronomy Weather & Climate By Anne Marie Helmenstine, Ph.D. Chemistry Expert Ph.D., Biomedical Sciences, University of Tennessee at Knoxville B.A., Physics and Mathematics, Hastings College Dr. Helmenstine holds a Ph.D. in biomedical sciences and is a science writer, educator, and consultant. She has taught science courses at the high school, college, and graduate levels. our editorial process Facebook Facebook Twitter Twitter Anne Marie Helmenstine, Ph.D. Updated June 02, 2021 Avogadro's number is one of the most important constants used in chemistry. It is the number of particles in a single mole of a material, based on the number of atoms in exactly 12 grams of the isotope carbon-12. Although this number is a constant, it contains too many significant figures to work with, so we use a rounded value of 6.022 x 1023. So, you know how many atoms are in a mole. Here's how to use the information to determine the mass of a single atom. Key Takeaways: Using Avogadro's Number to Calculate Atomic Mass Avogadro's number is the number of particles in one mole of anything. In this context, it is the number of atoms in one mole of an element. It's easy to find the mass of a single atom using Avogadro's number. Simply divide the relative atomic mass of the element by Avogadro's number to get the answer in grams. The same process works for finding the mass of one molecule. In this case, add up all the atomic masses in the chemical formula and divide by Avogadro's number. Avogadro's Number Example Problem: Mass of a Single Atom Question: Calculate the mass in grams of a single carbon (C) atom. Solution To calculate the mass of a single atom, first look up the atomic mass of carbon from the periodic table. This number, 12.01, is the mass in grams of one mole of carbon. One mole of carbon is 6.022 x 1023 atoms of carbon (Avogadro's number). This relation is then used to 'convert' a carbon atom to grams by the ratio: mass of 1 atom / 1 atom = mass of a mole of atoms / 6.022 x 1023 atoms Plug in the atomic mass of carbon to solve for the mass of 1 atom: mass of 1 atom = mass of a mole of atoms / 6.022 x 1023 mass of 1 C atom = 12.01 g / 6.022 x 1023 C atomsmass of 1 C atom = 1.994 x 10-23 g Answer The mass of a single carbon atom is 1.994 x 10-23 g. The mass of a single atom is an extremely small number! This is why chemists use Avogadro's number. It makes working with atoms easier because we work with moles rather than individual atoms. Applying the Formula to Solve for Other Atoms and Molecules Although the problem was worked using carbon (the element upon which Avogadro's number is based), you can use the same method to solve for the mass of an atom or molecule. If you're finding the mass of an atom of a different element, just use that element's atomic mass. If you want to use the relation to solve for the mass of a single molecule, there's an extra step. You need to add up the masses of all of the atoms in that one molecule and use them instead. Let's say, for example, you want to know the mass of a single atom of water. From the formula (H2O), you know there are two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom. You use the periodic table to look up the mass of each atom (H is 1.01 and O is 16.00). Forming a water molecule gives you a mass of: 1.01 + 1.01 + 16.00 = 18.02 grams per mole of water and you solve with: mass of 1 molecule = mass of one mole of molecules / 6.022 x 1023 mass of 1 water molecule = 18.02 grams per mole / 6.022 x 1023 molecules per mole mass of 1 water molecule = 2.992 x 10-23 grams Sources Born, Max (1969): Atomic Physics (8th ed.). Dover edition, reprinted by Courier in 2013. ISBN 9780486318585 Bureau International des Poids et Mesures (2019). The International System of Units (SI) (9th ed.). English version. International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (1980). "Atomic Weights of the Elements 1979". Pure Appl. Chem. 52 (10): 2349–84. doi:10.1351/pac198052102349 International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (1993). Quantities, Units and Symbols in Physical Chemistry (2nd ed.). Oxford: Blackwell Science. ISBN 0-632-03583-8. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). "Avogadro constant". Fundamental Physical Constants. Cite this Article Format mla apa chicago Your Citation Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. "Avogadro's Number Example Chemistry Problem." ThoughtCo, Jun. 2, 2021, thoughtco.com/avogadros-number-example-chemistry-problem-609541. Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. (2021, June 2). Avogadro's Number Example Chemistry Problem. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/avogadros-number-example-chemistry-problem-609541 Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. "Avogadro's Number Example Chemistry Problem." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/avogadros-number-example-chemistry-problem-609541 (accessed July 28, 2021). copy citation Watch Now: What Is An Atom?