Difference Between Atom and Cell (With Table)

Atoms and cells are the fundamental units. The former is for a chemical element, the latter for biology. Earth can not survive without atom and cell. Though both of the units are important for the universe, they are different in nature and have different functions.

Atom vs Cell

The main difference between Atom and Cell is that an atom is the smallest unit of a chemical element, and a cell is the smallest unit of the biological units. The universe is made of atoms, whereas we humans are made of cells.

This whole universe is made by atoms coming together. Solid, gas, liquid, everything is made by atoms. Atoms can be split off into electrons, protons and neutrons. Atom is an essential and inevitable part of anything which has a physical presence.

A cell is part of biology. Cells have been designated as “building blocks” of living things. We are made of cells. Cells come together and make tissues, and tissues make organs. It takes trillions of cells to make a human body.

Comparison Table Between Atom and Cell

Parameters of Comparison




Atom is the smallest part of a chemical element.

Cells are the smallest unit of any living beings.


Atoms are known as “building blocks of matter”.

Cells are known as building blocks of living entities.


Atoms take part in every chemical reaction.

Cells are responsible for the development and growth of living existences.

Consists of

Atoms are composed of protons, neutrons, and electrons.

A cell is formulated with molecules, which are made of atoms.


Atoms do not have life. They do not need food, water, and they do not reproduce.

Cells are alive. Cells consume food and water and can reproduce.


Atom construct molecules.

Cells make tissues for organs.


Atoms are smaller than cells.

Cells are bigger than atoms.

What is Atom?

Atom is the essence of the matter. Atoms have been determined as “the basic building blocks of matter”. A matter is anything that has a physical entity. That is everything that can be touched. The whole world is made of atoms. Atoms are the base of any chemical element.

Nothing that exists is as small as an atom in a chemical element. Atoms are too small to see with naked eyes. Atoms were taken as the smallest unit, and it was thought that they can not be dissected. But later on, scientists were able to cut it, and we get to know it is made of protons, neutrons, and electrons.

Each of the atoms is consist of one nucleus at the centre, which contains protons and neutrons. The nucleus is the centre of the atoms, which is bounded by one or more electrons.

The nucleus contains neutrons and protons. Neutrons have no charge, so it is neutral. A proton has a positive charge. Whereas an electron has a negative charge. The charge of an atom will be zero if it contains the same amount of protons and electrons.

Atom takes part in all chemical reactions, and when a chemical reaction takes place, atoms can get rearranged.

What is Cell?

Cells are the rudimentary unit of life. Cells are living, functioning structural unit, that is responsible for the process of life. Cells are called “the building blocks of living beings”. This indispensable unit of living beings was first discovered by Robert Hooke in 1665.

Cells are made by molecules. Each of the cells contains a fluid called the cytoplasm, which is enveloped by a membrane. Every cell has one nucleus and membrane-bound cytoplasm. Cells are also contained with proteins, carbohydrates, lipids and nucleic acid.

Cells main function is to take part in the growth and development of an organism. Every organism is constructed of cells. Cells are alive. 

They absorb the food and water in order to keep the organisms in working order. Cells help in reproduction and pass the genetic information from one cell to the other.

Cells need the energy to carry forward their work. This requirement of energy is fulfilled by Mitochondria. Mitochondria are determined as the “powerhouse of cells”.

Main Differences Between Atom and Cell

  1. An atom is a chemical unit. It is the smallest particle of a chemical element. A cell is a biological unit. It is the smallest unit of any living beings.
  2. A cell is composed of molecules, and molecules are composed of atoms.
  3. Cells are bigger than atoms. A cell is made by molecules that are made by atoms. Therefore atoms are smaller than cells.
  4. Cells are made of molecules like proteins, carbohydrates, lipids and nucleic acid, whereas atoms are made of electrons, protons and neutrons.
  5. Atoms are not alive. They do not have a life. Atoms do not consume food or water. While cells have life and they consume food and water to stay alive.
  6. Atoms can not reproduce as they are not alive, but cells can reproduce.


Both atoms and cells are crucial and essential for the world. Atom is rudimentary for anything which has a physical presence, and cell is rudimentary for every living thing.

Atoms and cells belong to two different streams of science. Atoms belong to chemistry, and cells belong to biology. Atoms are smaller than cells and in a way even cell is made by atoms. Cells are composed of molecules, and molecules are made by atoms.

Matters or things with physical entities can not exist without atoms, and we living beings can not function without cells. Cells are responsible for any kind of live process, and our organs are made of cells.

Both atoms and cells are vital for a healthy world, where atoms take care of the matter, and cells take care of the living entities.


  1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0009261492859206
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0030401898004581