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monatomic gas

gas composed of particles (molecules) that consist of single atoms, such as helium or sodium vapour, and in this way different from diatomic, triatomic, or, in general, polyatomic gases. The thermodynamic behaviour of a monatomic gas in the ordinary temperature range is extremely simple because it is free from the rotational and vibrational energy components characteristic of polyatomic gases; thus its heat capacity is independent of temperature and molecular (here, atomic) weight, and its entropy (a measure of disorder) depends only on temperature and molecular weight.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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