An atom is the smallest constituent unit of ordinary matter that has the properties of a chemical element. Every solid, liquid, gas, and plasma is composed of neutral or ionized atoms. Atoms are very small; typical sizes are around 100 picometers (a ten-billionth of a meter, in the short scale).
Atoms are small enough that attempting to predict their behavior using classical physics – as if they were billiard balls, for example – gives noticeably incorrect predictions due to quantum effects. Through the development of physics, atomic models have incorporated quantum principles to better explain and predict the behavior.
Every atom is composed of a nucleus and one or more electrons bound to the nucleus.