John Dalton's Theory on Atomic Structure


John Dalton gave the atom solid footing as an elementary chemical object through the development of Dalton's Atomic Theory in the early 1800s. Though modern atomic theory is more complex than Dalton's theory, the substance of his theory remains valid today, according to the Indiana University Northwest Chemistry 101 website.

Law of Conservation of Matter

  • The law of conservation of matter takes center stage in Dalton's Atomic Theory and says that when a chemical reaction takes place, matter is neither created nor destroyed. It implies that when a chemical reaction takes place, atoms are simply rearranged.

Law of Constant Composition

  • The law of constant composition, Dalton's second law, notes that multiple samples of any pure chemical compound always contain the same percent by mass of each element making up the compound. Dalton also viewed this law as proof that elements existed in the form of atoms.

Dalton's Atomic Theory

  • Using the basis of the laws of conservation of matter and constant composition, Dalton developed an atomic theory delineating five basic laws, of which the remaining three decry that atoms of a particular size are alike and atoms of different elements are different from one another. Finally, his theory indicates that a chemical reaction involves neither the union nor the separation of individual atoms.


  • Photo Credit atom image by Oleg Verbitsky from
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