Accreditation and Quality Assurance

, Volume 16, Issue 3, pp 167–170 | Cite as

The mole: definition versus practical use

  • G. Meinrath
Discussion Forum


Most base units in the SI relate to specific sensoric qualities our body is able to observe: space, heat, brightness, etc. The base unit ‘mole’ incorporates intellectual insight: the atomistic perception of the world. This perception is a quintessence of over 300 years of scientific research. The quintessence, from Dalton’s ‘The sceptical chymist’ to Perrin’s Nobel Prize in 1926 and Pauling’s ‘Nature of the Chemical Bond’ in 1939, results in the conclusion that the base unit of the SI quantity ‘amount of substance’ is not the mole but the dimensionless entity.


Mole Amount of substance Avogadro number Dimensionless quantity Number of entities 



The manuscript has profited from the discussions with two unknown reviewers. While all faults and weaknesses of the manuscript are to the sole responsibility of the author, the reviewers’ contributions are gratefully acknowledged.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.RER Consultants PassauPassauGermany
  2. 2.Institut Für Anorganische ChemieTechnische Universität Bergakademie FreibergFreibergGermany

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