The Wikipedia article on the mole states:

 The term gram-atom (abbreviated gat.) has been used for a related but distinct concept, namely a quantity of a substance that contains Avogadro's number of atoms, whether isolated or combined in molecules. Thus, for example, 1 mole of $\ce{MgB2}$ is 1 gram-molecule of $\ce{MgB2}$ but 3 gram-atoms of $\ce{MgB2}$.

Can anybody explain the difference between moles and gram atoms, and how is it that 1 mole of $\ce{MgB2}$ is 1 gram-molecule of $\ce{MgB2}$ but 3 gram-atoms of $\ce{MgB2}$?

  • $\begingroup$ The molecule has 3 atoms, so ...... $\endgroup$ Apr 13, 2015 at 15:14

1 Answer 1


$\ce{MgB2}$ is 1 gram-molecule of $\ce{MgB2}$ but 3 gram-atoms of $\ce{MgB2}$.

Why is this so? Let us consider this problem in the familiar mole:

If we were asked how many moles of the substance (molecule) were in this, we would state 1 mole, if there were $\pu{45.3 g}$ of substance. However, if we were asked how many moles of atoms were in the substance, we would accordingly state 3. Thus, in one molecule, there are 3 atoms, so if we simply consider the number of atoms, there would be the necessity of counting the number. of atoms in a molecule, as a molecule is comprised of more than a single atom

* This is purely hypothetical. One would probably not consider $\ce{MgB2}$, as J. LS pointed out, it decomposes . However, the concept can be applied to other compounds

  • $\begingroup$ There are no molecules of magnesium diboride as it decomposes before you can reach its melting point, which makes this a rather odd example to use here. $\endgroup$
    – J. LS
    Apr 14, 2015 at 8:19
  • $\begingroup$ @J.LS Thanks for pointing that out! I had simply used the example the asker had given, but I guess it would be nice to be aware of that point. $\endgroup$
    – Andy
    Apr 14, 2015 at 22:13
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ OP has also asked for difference between moles and gram atoms ,but nobody explained this point? $\endgroup$
    – Rabik John
    May 12, 2018 at 11:15

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