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What is Matter? – Definition, States, Classification and Properties

  • Last Updated : 30 Nov, 2021

The three basic states of matter are solid, liquid, and gaseous. All of the materials we come into contact with on a daily basis (from ice cream to chairs to water) are composed of matter. On the basis of intermolecular forces and particle arrangement, matter can be classified into three states: solid, liquid, and gas. These three types of matter can be converted from one state to another by modifying certain environmental factors (increasing or decreasing pressure and temperature, for instance). By increasing the temperature, for example, ice can be transformed from a solid into liquid water. 

The transition of phases also characterizes the state of matter. The transition process indicates a structural shift and can be identified by a sudden change in properties. A distinct state of affairs is any set of states that is separated from any other set of states by a phase transition.

Matter

Matter is defined as anything that occupies space and has mass. 

Atoms are the building blocks of all matter, consisting of protons, neutrons, and electrons. Chemical energy is a type of potential energy that holds together atoms and molecules. “Anything with mass and volume” is defined as matter (takes up space). It’s not difficult to show that most of the products we interact with on a daily basis have mass and take up space.

States of Matter

One of the distinct forms that the various phases of matter take are the condition of the matter. In everyday life, four states of matter can be found: solid, liquid, gas, and plasma. Many other states, such as Bose-Einstein condensate and neutron degenerate matter, are thought to exist only in extremely cold or dense matter. Other states, such as quark-gluon plasmas, are thought to be possible but are still considered theoretical for the time being.

The device’s states are either gaseous, liquid, or solid. Solids have a tight atomic bond and a high viscosity, which results in a rigid form. Most solids are crystalline in the sense that they have a three-dimensional periodic atomic structure; however, some solids (such as glass) lack this periodic arrangement and are therefore non-crystalline or amorphous.

The particles (ions, atoms, or molecules) in the solid are tightly packed together. The forces between the particles are so strong that the particles can only vibrate and cannot move freely. As a result, the solid has a consistent, definite shape and volume. Solids can only change shape by applying force to them as if they were broken or cut. A liquid is a nearly incompressible fluid that conforms to the shape of its container while maintaining a (nearly) constant volume regardless of pressure. If temperature and pressure remain constant, volume is defined. When a solid is heated past its melting point, it becomes liquid when the pressure exceeds the material’s triple point. The molecules in a gas have enough kinetic energy that the impact of intermolecular forces is small (or zero in the ideal gas) and the normal distance between adjacent molecules is much greater than the molecular size. The gas has no distinct shape or volume, but it completely fills the container in which it is contained.

Solids

One of the three fundamental states of matter is solid. A solid forms from a liquid or gas because the energy of atoms lowers as they take up a somewhat organised, three-dimensional structure. 

Solids have characteristics that distinguish them from liquids and gases. All solids, for example, can withstand forces applied perpendicular or parallel to a surface (i.e., normal or shear loads, respectively). Such properties are determined by the properties of the atoms that make up the solid, how those atoms are arranged, and the forces that exist between them. 

The properties of solids are:

  1. One of the fundamental states of matter is solid state.
  2. The rigidity of solids distinguishes them from liquids and gases.
  3. Because of strong intermolecular forces, the molecules of solids are tightly packed and only oscillate around their mean positions.
  4. Liquids and gases, on the other hand, have the property of fluidity and can easily flow.
  5. Solids are states of matter that have a definite shape and volume as well as a rigid structure.
  6. Solids have the least compressibility and thermal expansion of any material. Iron is an example

Liquids

The most visible physical properties of a liquid are volume retention and conformation to the shape of its container. When a liquid substance is poured into a vessel, it takes on the shape of the vessel and will remain inside as long as the substance is liquid. Furthermore, when a liquid is poured from one vessel to another, it retains its volume but not its shape (as long as there is no vaporization or temperature change). 

These properties are useful for distinguishing between the liquid and solid states. Gases, for example, expand to fill their container to the point where their volume equals that of the container. When moving solids from one container to another, they keep their shape and volume. 

Its properties are:

  1. Because of weak intermolecular forces, the molecules in a liquid are tightly packed.
  2. These forces are weaker in solids but stronger in gases.
  3. Liquid molecules have a lot of space between them, which allows them to flow easily.
  4. Liquids have a fixed volume and can easily take on the shape of a vessel.
  5. The conversion of solids to liquids occurs when the temperature of the solids is raised to the point where the solids begin to melt.
  6. In general, the density of liquids falls somewhere between the densities of solids and gases. Liquids have slightly higher compressibility and thermal expansion than solids.
  7. Water is an example

Gases

Gases are remarkable in that they appear to have no structure at all. They have neither a definite size nor a definite shape, whereas ordinary solids have both a definite size and a definite shape, and liquids have a definite size, or volume, even though their shape adapts to that of the container in which they are placed. 

Gases will completely fill any closed container; their properties are determined by the volume of the container rather than its shape. Its properties are:

  1. The distances between molecules are large in this state of matter.
  2. The intermolecular forces that exist between them are insignificant.
  3. As a result, translatory, rotatory, and vibratory motions are prominent in gases.
  4. Gases have no fixed shape or volume.
  5. They are also very compressible and have a high thermal expansion.
  6. Oxygen is an example.

Plasma

Plasma is a type of matter that is not commonly seen. Plasma is made up of particles with a very high kinetic energy. Electricity is used to ionise noble gases, resulting in glowing signs that are essentially plasma. Stars are superheated forms of plasma.

Bose-Einstein Condensates

Bose-Einstein condensates were discovered in 1995 as a result of technological advancements. Carl Weiman and Eric Cornell used magnets and lasers to cool a rubidium sample to a few degrees below absolute zero. The motion of the molecules becomes negligible at the specified temperature. As the kinetic energy decreases, the atoms no longer remain separate and begin to clump together. When the atoms combine, they form a super-atom. As light passes through a BEC, it slows down, allowing scientists to learn more about the nature of light as a wave and particle. BECs also exhibit superfluid properties, implying that they flow without friction.

Sample Questions

Question 1: Can Matter exist in two states at once?

Answer:

Pressure has the ability to change the state of matter. Certain matters frequently vary, but often only occur in two states and necessitate human and technical assistance to progress through all three stages. Water is the only substance on the planet that can exist naturally in all three states: solid, liquid, and oil.

Question 2: Is light a matter?

Answer:

Light is a type of energy, not matter. Atoms make up matter. Light, in fact, is electromagnetic radiation. A magnetic field is created when an electrical charge or electrons (electrical current) move, and a changing magnetic field creates an electrical or electrical field.

Question 3: How do we classify matter?

Answer:

Physical and chemical properties can be used to classify matter. Matter is defined as something that occupies space and has mass. Solid, liquid, and gaseous are the three states of matter. The conversion of a material from one state of matter to another without changing its chemical composition is referred to as a physical transition.

Question 4: How is the matter made up?

Answer: 

Small particles make up matter as well. Atoms are the subatomic particles that make up matter. Atoms are invisible because they are so small. The majority of atoms combine to form the visible substance.

Question 5: Why are the 3 states of matter important?

Answer:

Understanding the particle nature of matter is critical. Matter is made up of atoms and molecules, not “small solid bits” or small liquid drops. The physical properties of such atoms and molecules determine their state.


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