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Chemistry

Chemistry is about the tiny building blocks that make up everything in the universe! Briefly put, it is the study of the properties of matter. If you have ever wondered why the sky is blue or what makes a car move, then the answer has to do with chemistry. Chemistry is amazing because it can explain simple everyday things from skincare to electricity to medicine.

Chemistry chemistry is everywhere around us, chemistry in medicine, skincare, plants StudySmarter

Chemistry is everywhere in the world around you! Olive – StudySmarter Originals

Overview

  • In this article, you will learn about chemistry.
  • You will discover the three main components of Chemistry: Physical Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, and Inorganic Chemistry.
  • You will learn which topics are covered under each subheading.

What is Chemistry?

Chemistry is the study of the properties of matter, how matter changes and what it’s made of.

We can break down almost everything in the universe into tiny particles called atoms. There are 119 types of atoms in the universe. Groups of atoms bonded together are called molecules. In a chemical reaction, molecules rearrange themselves to make multitudes of materials and substances that exist today. Every material has a specific composition of atoms which we express as a chemical formula.

Example:

H2O is the chemical formula for water.
This means that a water molecule has two hydrogen (H) atoms and one oxygen (O) atom.

Chemistry Water molecule and formula StudySmarter

The chemical formula for water and its molecule. Olive – StudySmarter Originals

In chemistry, you will learn the formulae for various materials and how to combine molecules in reactions. You will also learn how atoms make electricity and energy.

At StudySmarter you will find articles that cover topics for chemistry courses and exams. You can make notes, add pictures, and use the handy articles written by our brainy content designers. They have included a ton of hints and tips to help you in your exams! You can also create your own flashcards and use the handy worked examples.

Topics in Chemistry

We sometimes call chemistry the central science because it combines maths, biology, physics and medicine, which is why chemistry has a number of branches. The topics you will cover come under three main sections: Physical Chemistry, Inorganic Chemistry and Organic Chemistry. Let’s have a brief look at what you’ll learn in each section.

What is Physical Chemistry?

You might have guessed that physical chemistry combines physics and chemistry.

As an example, let’s consider water. You already know its chemical formula: H2O. Now think about what happens when you boil water. How about when water freezes? Why does sugar dissolve in water? How does that happen? The chemical answers to these questions have to do with the arrangement of the atoms in a water molecule, while physics tells us what is going on between the water molecules.

Chemistry water molecules gif StudySmarter

The nature of the bond between the molecules gives water its unique properties. makeagif.com

Essentially, physical chemistry is a study of how atoms behave. If you were to look into an atom you would see that it’s made of other tiny sub-particles called electrons, protons, and neurons. Every atom has a unique arrangement of sub-particles (Atomic Structure). Atomic structure affects how atoms bond with each other (Atomic Bonding) and how they respond to heat (Thermodynamics). Some of the other topics under physical chemistry include:

  • Amounts of Substance: How do we count, measure and weigh atoms?
  • Bonding: How do atoms form bonds with each other?
  • Energetics: How does energy change in a chemical reaction? How do we use Hess’ Law to calculate the energy needed to make a compound?
  • Kinetics: How much energy do we need for a reaction to take place? Can we make a reaction happen more quickly?
  • Equilibria: Reactions that reverse themselves – how do they do this?
  • Redox: What happens in reactions that involve oxygen and hydrogen?

What is Inorganic Chemistry?

In 1869, a Russian chemist named Dimitri Mendeleev arranged all the known types of atoms to fit on what we now know as the periodic table of elements. Elements are the most basic materials in the universe. We can find carbon – the fourth most abundant element – in organic materials like wood, coal, and soil. Materials that do not have carbon in them are called inorganic compounds. So, inorganic chemistry is the study of materials that do not contain carbon. Have a look at the periodic table below – the pink element is carbon. That leaves a whole lot of other elements for you to discover in inorganic chemistry!

Chemistry Periodic table StudySmarter

Inorganic chemistry is the study of materials that do not contain carbon. Olive – StudySmarter Originals

In inorganic chemistry, we will explore the periodic table. You will learn how we ended up with all the elements we see on it today and discover why Mendeleev arranged the elements that way. You will also learn about the similarities and differences in their properties and how we use them in chemistry. The topics under inorganic chemistry include:

  • Periodicity and Trends: What is a group or period? What are the similarities between the elements in the same group or period?
  • Group 2: Why are the elements in the second column on the periodic table called alkaline earth metals? How do they react with oxygen and water?
  • Group 7: What are the different colors of the halogens? How do they react with hydrogen?
  • Period 3: What trends can you observe between the elements on the third row in the periodic table?
  • Transition Metals: What makes transition metals different from other metals on the periodic table? What are they used for?

What is Organic Chemistry?

Organic chemistry is the study of materials that contain carbon. ‘Organic’ means derived from living things. We call this field organic chemistry because scientists previously thought that we could only find organic compounds in living matter, which couldn’t be made artificially. Today, we know this is not true – we can manufacture numerous organic compounds in laboratories.

Even though organic chemistry mostly focuses on carbon, it is the second-largest section in chemistry. This is because carbon can combine with other elements to form a vast array of fascinating molecules, structures, and compounds! Carbon bonds covalently with elements like hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen to make long, complex repeating chains that form various fantastic materials that we use today. Among the materials you will learn about in organic chemistry are alcohols and polymers. Other topics in organic chemistry include:

  • Alkanes: What do alkanes have to do with crude oil? How does carbon monoxide cause death?
  • Halogenoalkanes: What happens when a halogen reacts with an alkane? How do halogenoalkanes turn into alcohol?
  • Alkenes: What’s so special about the carbon bonds in an alkene? How do alkenes contribute to plastic pollution?
  • Organic Analysis: What techniques can you use to identify an organic compound?
  • Organic Synthesis: What are organic functional groups? How do you get from one to the other?
  • NMR Spectrometry: How do we use Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) Spectrometry to analyze organic compounds?
  • Chromatography: What does chromatography have to do with dyes and forensic science?

Chemistry is a fascinating subject to study. You may find it challenging but each lesson will reward you with an understanding of the universe at a molecular level.

Frequently Asked Questions about Chemistry

What is chemistry?
Chemistry is the study of the properties of matter.

What is physical chemistry?
Physical chemistry explains chemical interactions using physics. It is the study of how atoms behave.

What is organic chemistry?
Organic chemistry is the study of organic or carbon-based compounds.

What is inorganic chemistry?
Inorganic chemistry is the study of non-carbon-based materials.

How many known types of atoms are there?
There are 119 known types of atoms on the periodic table.

Who came up with the modern arrangement of the periodic table?
Dimitri Mendeleev developed the modern arrangement of the periodic table.

What does organic mean?
Organic means derived from living things.

Final Chemistry Quiz

Question

Which statement is correct?

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Answer

Protons have a relative mass of 1

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Question

Complete the following sentence: electrons are found ___________.

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Answer

In shells orbiting the nucleus.

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Question

What is the relative mass and charge of an electron?

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Answer

Relative charge of -1 and mass of 1/1840

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Question

What does mass number represent?

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Answer

The total number of protons and neutrons in an atom.


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Question

What does atomic number represent?


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Answer

The number of protons in an atom.

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Question

Which particle determines the chemical properties of an atom?


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Answer

Electron

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Question

Which particle determines the element an atom belongs to?


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Answer

Proton

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Question

What is an ion?


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Answer

An atom that has either gained or lost an electron to form a charged particle.


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What is an isotope?


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Answer

 Isotopes are atoms of the same element with differing numbers of neutrons.

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Question

Why do ions have differing chemical properties?


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Answer

Because they have different electron configurations.


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Question

Define relative atomic mass.

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Answer

The average mass of an atom in an element compared to 1/12 of the mass of a carbon-12 atom.


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Question

A sample of copper contains 69% copper-63 and 31% copper-65. Calculate its relative atomic mass, giving your answer to 1 decimal place.


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Answer

63.6


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Question

Compare and contrast JJ Thompson and Ernest Rutherford's views about the atom.


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Answer

  • Both believed in negatively charged subatomic particles called electrons.
  • Thompson believed that electrons were randomly scattered throughout the rest of the positively charged atom.
  • Rutherford believed that the electrons orbited in rings around a nucleus densely packed with positive protons.
  • Rutherford believed that most of the atom was empty space.

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Question

List three of Democritus’ beliefs about the atom.

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Answer

  • Atoms were indivisible.
  • Atoms were indestructible.
  • Atoms were constantly moving.
  • Atoms were the smallest unit possible. 
  • Everything was made up of atoms.


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Question

What is an atom?


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Answer

The smallest unit of an element.

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Question

What are the three fundamental particles?


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Answer

Proton, neutron and electron.


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Question

What is the relative mass of a proton on the carbon-12 scale?


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Answer

1

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Question

Which sentence is correct?


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Answer

Neutrons are neutral and have a relative mass of 1.

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Question

Which sentence is correct?

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Answer

Protons and electrons have opposite charges.


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Question

What is the relative mass of an electron?


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Answer

1/1840

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Question

Where are protons found in an atom?


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Answer

In the nucleus.

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Question

Where are electrons found in an atom?


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Answer

In shells orbiting the nucleus

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Question

 Where are neutrons found in an atom?


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Answer

In the nucleus.

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Question

Compare electrostatic forces with strong nuclear forces.


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Answer

  • Both electrostatic forces and strong nuclear forces are found in an atom. 
  • Electrostatic forces occur between electrons and the nucleus
  • The strong nuclear force acts between protons and neutrons, within the nucleus. 
  • The strong nuclear force is a lot stronger than electrostatic forces.


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Question

Protons and neutrons are collectively referred to as nucleons. Give a reason for this.


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Answer

They are both found in the nucleus.

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Question

2s is a lower energy shell than 2p. Predict which will get filled with electrons first.


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Answer

2s will get filled first.

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Question

The electron shell 2s is further away from the nucleus than 1s. Predict which has a higher energy level.

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Answer

2s

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Question

Which element contains eight protons?


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Answer

Oxygen

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Question

When two hydrogen nuclei fuse, a proton is turned into a neutron. What element is the overall product?


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Answer

The overall product has one proton so is an isotope of hydrogen.


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Question

 Predict what chemical, physical or other changes will occur when a lithium atom gains a proton


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Answer

It becomes beryllium, a new element.


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Question

Predict what chemical, physical or other changes will occur when a lithium atom gains an electron.


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Answer

It changes chemical properties as it has a different electron configuration.


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Question

 Predict what chemical, physical or other changes will occur when a lithium atom gains a neutron.


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Answer

It has slightly different physical properties as it has increased in mass.


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Question

​What is an element's mass number?

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Answer

The combined total number of protons and neutrons in its nucleus.


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Question

What is an element’s atomic number?


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Answer

The number of protons in its nucleus.


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Question

What symbol represents mass number?

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Answer

A

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Question

What symbol represents atomic number?

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Answer

Z

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Question

 An atom has eight protons. How many electrons does it have?


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Answer

8

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Question

An atom has six protons. How many neutrons does it have?


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Answer

5

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Question

What is an ion?


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Answer

An atom that has gained or lost an electron to form a charged particle.


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Question

How do isotopes of the same element differ?

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Answer

Isotopes of the same element have the same number of protons and electrons but different numbers of neutrons.

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Question

Compare ions and isotopes.

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Answer

  • Ions and isotopes of the same element both have the same number of protons. 
  • Isotopes will have different numbers of neutrons but the same number of electrons whereas ions have different numbers of electrons.
  • Isotopes are neutral overall whereas ions are charged particles.


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Question

Aluminium can form an ion with a charge of +3. Represent this using roman numerals.


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Answer

Al(III)


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Question

 Beryllium can react to form an ion by losing two electrons. What is the charge on this ion?


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Answer

2+

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Question

Define relative atomic mass.

Show answer

Answer

The average mass of an atom of an element in a sample compared to 1/12th of the mass of a ¹²C atom.

Show question

Question

Work out the relative atomic mass of a sample of copper containing 69% 63Cu and 31% 65Cu, to 1 decimal place.

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Answer

63.6


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Question

What is mass spectrometry?


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Answer

An analytical technique used to determine the mass to charge ratio of ions.

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Question

Give 2 uses for mass spectrometry.


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Answer

  • Identify molecules in a sample.
  • Work out the relative atomic mass of an element.


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Question

What are the 4 stages of TOF mass spectrometry?

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Answer

  1. Ionisation.
  2. Acceleration.
  3. Flight.
  4. Detection.


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Question

How does the velocity of ions relate to their mass in TOF spectrometry?


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Answer

As all ions are accelerated to the same kinetic energy, lighter ions have a faster velocity.

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Question

 Why is electrospray ionisation known as a ‘soft’ technique?

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Answer

It produces very little fragmentation.

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