What is Matter? Definition, States of Matter

What is Matter?


According to classical physics, anything in this universe that has mass and volume (that occupies some space) is called matter. Matters are all around us, these are some things that you are seeing and touching every day such as rock, trees, anything you consume as food, whatever you drink, and the oxygen that you take in through breath are all matters.

Matter exists in different states (also known as phases) such as - solid, liquid, and gas – for example, water exists as ice ( solid form), liquid water, and gaseous steam – but other states of matter are possible such as plasma, Bose-Einstein condensates, fermionic condensates, and quark-gluon plasma.

All matters that we know so far are made up of atoms which are composed of electron, proton, and neutron. Atoms come together to form molecules, which act as building blocks for all kinds of matters. According to classical physics, matter, which is made up of electron, proton, and neutron is considered to be a particle for scientific interpretation.

But the concept of matter is further complicated when it comes to quantum mechanics. In the quantum mechanics view, matters behave both like particles and waves which is also known as the duality nature of matter.

But the matter we are talking about is only 5% of the entire universe. The remaining 95% of the universe is made up of dark matter and dark energy, which is completely unknown to us.

Various states of matters


There are four states of matter - Solids, liquids, gases, and plasma. These are all natural states of matter. But there are also some other states of matter such as Bose-Einstein condensates, fermionic condensates, and quark-gluon plasma. These states exist only in extreme conditions.

What is Matter

When energy is exchanged from matter, changes can be observed in these different states of matter. For example, if energy is added to a solid form of matter, that solid is converted into a liquid, and if energy is removed from the liquid form of matter, that liquid is converted to a solid. Similarly, it is applicable to liquid and gas.

The solid-state of matters:

If we talk about the molecular structure of the matter, the particles (ions, atoms, or molecules) in the solid are closely bound together. The forces between particles in a solid matter are so strong that the particles cannot move freely but can only vibrate. That is why particles in a solid have very low kinetic energy.

Because of this, solids are stable, have a certain size and a certain volume. Their shape can only be changed by an external force such as broken or cut. Since the particles in a solid are closely bound together, solids have a high density.

When heat is supplied to a solid, it turns into a liquid. In the case of solids, taking heat and turning it into a liquid is called meltingWhen a solid reaches a certain point in the combination of temperature and pressure, the point from which the melting of the solid begins is called the melting point of that solid. For example -  the melting point of water is  0 °C or 32 °F.

Solids can also be changed into gases directly, without going through the liquid states. The process in which solids changes directly in gases is known as sublimation.

The liquid state of matters:

In the liquid, particles ( ions, atoms, or molecules) are more loosely packed than in a solid. The forces between particles in a liquid are not as strong as in solids. Because of this, liquids are able to flow around each other and giving the liquid an indefinite shape. Since the particles of liquids are packed more loosely than solids, the density of liquids is lower than the density of solids.

When heat is supplied to a liquid, it turns into a gas. In the case of liquid, taking heat and turning it into the gas is called vaporization. This vaporization can occur through either evaporation or boiling.

When a liquid reaches a certain point in the combination of temperature and pressure, the point from which the boiling of the liquid begins is called the boiling point of that liquid. For example -  the boiling point of water is 100℃ or 212 °F. Boiling occurs from the entire liquid in a container. But evaporation occurs only on the surface of the liquid and it doesn't need any specific temperature to occur.

When heat is removed from a liquid, it turns into a solid. In the case of liquid, removing heat and turning it into the solid is called freezing. When a liquid reaches a certain point in the combination of temperature and pressure, the point from which the freezing of the liquid begins is called the freezing point of that liquid. For example -  the freezing point of water is  0 °C or 32 °F.

The gaseous state of matters:

In the gas, the intermolecular forces are very weak. That is why particles in the gas have very high kinetic energy. A gas has no certain shape or volume but it completely occupies the entire container where it is confined.

Since the intermolecular forces are very weak in the gas, the particles are spread out indefinitely throughout the entire container in which it is confined. For which the density of the gas is much less than the density of solids and liquid.

When heat is removed from the gas, it turns into a liquid. In the case of the gas, removing heat and turning it into the liquid is called condensation. Gases can also be changed into solids directly, without going through the liquid states. The process in which gases changes directly in solids is known as deposition.

The plasma state of matters:

Plasmas are high energy gases that have lost their electrons. Plasmas are like gas, they do not have definite shape or volume. Plasmas are electrically conductive. They can produce magnetic fields, electric currents and respond strongly to electromagnetic forces.

Plasma can be made in two ways - either by applying a high voltage difference between the two ends or by applying high temperatures. For example, stars, including the sun, are covered in plasmas because they have higher temperatures.

In the laboratory, noble gases (helium, neon, argon, krypton, xenon, and radon) are often used to create glowing signs by using electricity to ionize them to the plasma state.

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