Molecular mass

  • the molecular mass (m) is the mass of a given molecule: it is measured in daltons (da or u).[1][2] different molecules of the same compound may have different molecular masses because they contain different isotopes of an element. the related quantity relative molecular mass, as defined by iupac, is the ratio of the mass of a molecule to the unified atomic mass unit (also known as the dalton) and is unitless. the molecular mass and relative molecular mass are distinct from but related to the molar mass. the molar mass is defined as the mass of a given substance divided by the amount of a substance and is expressed in g/mol. the molar mass is usually the more appropriate figure when dealing with macroscopic (weigh-able) quantities of a substance.

    the definition of molecular weight is most authoritatively synonymous with molecular mass; however, in common practice, it is also highly variable as are the units used in conjunction with it. many common preparatory sources use g/mol and effectively define it as a synonym of molar mass, while more authoritative sources use da or u and align its definition more closely with the molecular mass. even when the molecular weight is used with the units da or u, it is frequently as a weighted average similar to the molar mass but with different units. in molecular biology, the weight of macromolecules is referred to as their molecular weight and is expressed in kda, although the numerical value is often approximate and representative of an average.

    the terms molecular mass, molecular weight, and molar mass are often used interchangeably in areas of science where distinguishing between them is unhelpful. in other areas of science, the distinction is crucial. the molecular mass is more commonly used when referring to the mass of a single or specific well-defined molecule and less commonly than molecular weight when referring to a weighted average of a sample. prior to the 2019 redefinition of si base units quantities expressed in daltons (da or u) were by definition numerically equivalent to otherwise identical quantities expressed in the units g/mol and were thus strictly numerically interchangeable. after the may 20th, 2019 redefinition of units, this relationship is only nearly equivalent.

    the molecular mass of small to medium size molecules, measured by mass spectrometry, can be used to determine the composition of elements in the molecule. the molecular masses of macromolecules, such as proteins, can also be determined by mass spectrometry; however, methods based on viscosity and light-scattering are also used to determine molecular mass when crystallographic or mass spectrometric data are not available.

  • calculation
  • determination
  • see also
  • references
  • external links

The molecular mass (m) is the mass of a given molecule: it is measured in daltons (Da or u).[1][2] Different molecules of the same compound may have different molecular masses because they contain different isotopes of an element. The related quantity relative molecular mass, as defined by IUPAC, is the ratio of the mass of a molecule to the unified atomic mass unit (also known as the dalton) and is unitless. The molecular mass and relative molecular mass are distinct from but related to the molar mass. The molar mass is defined as the mass of a given substance divided by the amount of a substance and is expressed in g/mol. The molar mass is usually the more appropriate figure when dealing with macroscopic (weigh-able) quantities of a substance.

The definition of molecular weight is most authoritatively synonymous with molecular mass; however, in common practice, it is also highly variable as are the units used in conjunction with it. Many common preparatory sources use g/mol and effectively define it as a synonym of molar mass, while more authoritative sources use Da or u and align its definition more closely with the molecular mass. Even when the molecular weight is used with the units Da or u, it is frequently as a weighted average similar to the molar mass but with different units. In molecular biology, the weight of macromolecules is referred to as their molecular weight and is expressed in kDa, although the numerical value is often approximate and representative of an average.

The terms molecular mass, molecular weight, and molar mass are often used interchangeably in areas of science where distinguishing between them is unhelpful. In other areas of science, the distinction is crucial. The molecular mass is more commonly used when referring to the mass of a single or specific well-defined molecule and less commonly than molecular weight when referring to a weighted average of a sample. Prior to the 2019 redefinition of SI base units quantities expressed in daltons (Da or u) were by definition numerically equivalent to otherwise identical quantities expressed in the units g/mol and were thus strictly numerically interchangeable. After the May 20th, 2019 redefinition of units, this relationship is only nearly equivalent.

The molecular mass of small to medium size molecules, measured by mass spectrometry, can be used to determine the composition of elements in the molecule. The molecular masses of macromolecules, such as proteins, can also be determined by mass spectrometry; however, methods based on viscosity and light-scattering are also used to determine molecular mass when crystallographic or mass spectrometric data are not available.