A glass stop H20 in three says of matter: ice (solid), water (liquid) and also vapor (gas).(Image credit: nikkytok | Shutterstock)
Matter is the "stuff" that renders up the world — everything that takes up space and has actually mass is matter.

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All matter is consisted of of atoms, which space in turn comprised of protons, neutrons and also electrons.

Atoms come with each other to form molecules, which are the building blocks for all varieties of matter, follow to Washington State University. Both atoms and also molecules are held together by a kind of potential energy dubbed chemical energy. Unlike kinetic energy, i beg your pardon is the energy of things in motion, potential power is the energy stored in one object.

The five phases of matter

There are 4 natural claims of matter: Solids, liquids, gases and plasma. The fifth state is the man-made Bose-Einstein condensates.


In a solid, particles are packed tightly together so lock don"t relocate much. The electron of every atom space constantly in motion, therefore the atoms have actually a small vibration, but they are resolved in their position. Since of this, corpuscle in a heavy have an extremely low kinetic energy.

Solids have a definite shape, as well as mass and volume, and do no conform come the form of the container in i beg your pardon they space placed. Solids likewise have a high density, meaning that the particles are tightly pack together.


In a liquid, the corpuscle are more loosely packed 보다 in a solid and are able to flow around each other, giving the liquid an indefinite shape. Therefore, the liquid will certainly conform to the shape of the container.

Much like solids, liquids (most that which have a lower thickness than solids) space incredibly challenging to compress.


In a gas, the particles have actually a an excellent deal of space between them and also have high kinetic energy. A gas has no definite shape or volume. If unconfined, the corpuscle of a gas will spread out out indefinitely; if confined, the gas will broaden to to fill its container. Once a gas is put under pressure by reduce the volume of the container, the room between particles is reduced and also the gas is compressed.


Plasma is no a typical state the matter right here on Earth, but it may be the most common state of issue in the universe, follow to the Jefferson Laboratory. Stars are basically superheated balls the plasma.

Plasma is composed of extremely charged corpuscle with very high kinetic energy. The noble gases (helium, neon, argon, krypton, xenon and also radon) are frequently used to make glowing indicators by using electrical energy to ionize them to the plasma state.

Bose-Einstein condensate

The Bose-Einstein condensate (BEC) was created by researchers in 1995. Utilizing a mix of lasers and magnets, Eric Cornell and Carl Weiman, scientists at the joint Institute for Lab Astrophysics (JILA) in Boulder, Colorado, cooled a sample that rubidium to within a few degrees of pure zero. In ~ this incredibly low temperature, molecular movement comes an extremely close come stopping. Due to the fact that there is nearly no kinetic energy being moved from one atom to another, the atoms begin to clump together. There room no longer thousands of different atoms, simply one "super atom."

A BEC is used to study quantum mechanics top top a macroscopic level. Light shows up to sluggish down together it passes v a BEC, enabling scientists to research the particle/wave paradox. A BEC also has many of the nature of a superfluid, or a liquid that operation without friction. BECs are also used to simulate conditions that can exist in black holes.

Going v a phase

Adding or removing power from matter causes a physical readjust as issue moves from one state come another. For example, including thermal energy (heat) to fluid water reasons it come become steam or vapor (a gas). And removing energy from liquid water causes it to come to be ice (a solid). Physical transforms can additionally be caused by motion and also pressure.

Melting and also freezing

When warmth is applied to a solid, that is particles begin to vibrate faster and move farther apart. When the substance reaches a certain mix of temperature and also pressure, its melting point, the heavy will start to melt and turn into a liquid.

When two says of matter, such together solid and liquid, are at the equilibrium temperature and pressure, extr heat added into the device will not cause the all at once temperature the the substance to boost until the entire sample reaches the very same physical state. For example, as soon as you put ice right into a glass that water and leave it out at room temperature, the ice and water will certainly eventually pertained to the exact same temperature. Together the ice melts from heat coming native the water, that will continue to be at zero levels Celsius till the entire ice cube melts before continuing come warm.

When heat is removed from a liquid, that is particles sluggish down and begin to settle in one place within the substance. As soon as the substance reaches a cool sufficient temperature in ~ a certain pressure, the freezing point, the liquid becomes a solid.

Most liquids contract as they freeze. Water, however, expands when it freezes into ice, causing the molecules to press farther apart and decrease the density, i m sorry is why ice cream floats on peak of water.

Adding additional substances, such together salt in water, can change both the melting and also freezing points. Because that example, including salt come snow will certainly decrease the temperature the water freezes ~ above roads, making it much safer for drivers.

There is likewise a point, well-known as the triple point, whereby solids, liquids and gases every exist simultaneously. Water, because that example, exists in all three claims at a temperature that 273.16 Kelvin and a push of 611.2 pascals.


Most liquids contract when they freeze but water expands, making the less thick when it i do not care ice. This unique characteristic enables ice come float in water, favor this huge iceberg in Antarctica. (Image credit: NASA/Operation Icebridge)


When a heavy is converted straight into a gas there is no going with a fluid phase, the procedure is well-known as sublimation. This may occur either as soon as the temperature the the sample is promptly increased beyond the boiling allude (flash vaporization) or as soon as a substance is "freeze-dried" by cooling that under vacuum problems so the the water in the substance undergoes sublimation and is removed from the sample. A few volatile substances will certainly undergo sublimation in ~ room temperature and pressure, such as frozen carbon dioxide, or dried ice.


Vaporization is the switch of a liquid to a gas and can take place through one of two people evaporation or boiling.

Because the particles of a liquid room in consistent motion, they generally collide with each other. Every collision also causes energy to be transferred, and when enough energy is moved to particles close to the surface they may be knocked completely away native the sample as cost-free gas particles. Liquids cool as they evaporate because the energy transferred to surface ar molecules, which reasons their escape, gets carried away through them.

Liquid boils when enough heat is included to a liquid to cause vapor bubbles to type below the surface. This boiling point is the temperature and also pressure in ~ which a liquid becomes a gas.

Condensation and deposition

Condensation occurs as soon as a gas loses energy and also comes together to type a liquid. Because that example, water vapor condenses into liquid water.

Deposition occurs as soon as a gas transforms straight into a solid, without going through the liquid phase. Water vapor becomes ice or frost once the air emotional a solid, such together a blade of grass, is cooler 보다 the remainder of the air.

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This write-up was updated on Aug. 21, 2019, by Live science Contributor Rachel Ross.