Four Fundamental States Of Matter Explained

Last updated on September 25th, 2020 at 04:02 pm

What Is Matter? Whatever is around you is Matter. Whatever you can see, feel or smell is matter. In simple terms, anything that has mass and occupies space is regarded as matter. All types of matter are made up of atoms (or even smaller sub-atomic particles). For example – when atoms are held together, they make solid, when they are separated; they make gases. Matter exhibit Wave-Particle Duality.

 
If we talk about the classification of matter or forms of matter – there are at least seven states of matter such as Solid, Liquid, Gas, Plasma, Bose-Einstein Condensate, Degenerate Matter, and Fermionic Condensate. But in this article, we will talk about only fundamental states or naturally occurring states of matter i.e Solid, Liquid, Gas, and Plasma. 
 

Solid State Of Matter

Solid State Of Matter is one of the four fundamental states of matter in which all the atoms are closely packed together with each other. Due to the small vibration between atoms, solid contains the least amount of Kinetic Energy. The Properties of solid include that they are rigid, have a definite shape and volume, have a very sharp melting point, and have a very high density as compared to the other states of matter. Characteristics of solids include that they are generally incompressible too.

pictures-of-solids
The pinnacle of New York’s Chrysler Building is made up of stainless steel
Credit: Wikimedia Commons

There are generally two types of solids: Ordered or Crystalline Solid and disordered or Amorphous Solid. When molecules, atoms, or subatomic particles are arranged in a highly ordered manner, we call this type of solid – a Crystalline Solid. On the other hand, when there is a lack of long-range order, we call this type of solid – Amorphous solid. Examples of Crystalline Solids are table salt, diamond, and metallic solids, etc. Examples of Amorphous Solids are Amorphous Metal Transformer, cotton, thin-film lubricants, and amorphous metal like window glass, etc.

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Liquid State Of Matter

The liquid is a type of matter in which all the atoms or particles are not closely packed with each other as compared to that of solid-state of matter. Due to its loosely packed structure and vibrating particles, particles of liquids have enough kinetic energy to flow like a gas.

Surface-tension-is-the-reason-for-formation-of-spherical-droplet-of-liquid-water
formation of a spherical droplet of liquid water
Credit: Wikimedia Commons

The properties of liquid are that they have a definite volume but do not have a definite shape; therefore a liquid state of matter can take any shape. Characteristics of liquids include that they are nearly incompressible and have surface tension – meaning liquid can shrink itself to a minimum surface area like a water droplet. Examples of liquids are blood, gasoline, milk, and water, etc.

see also, How To Calculate Density & Volume Using Buoyant Force – Archimedes Principle



Gaseous State Of Matter

In the Gaseous State Of Matter, all the particles are widely separated from each other. Due to this vast separation, particles of gas can freely move and results in much higher kinetic energy than that of solid or liquid states of matter. Gases follow all the Laws Of Thermodynamics such as Charles Law, Boyle’s Law, Ideal Gas Law or Gay-Lussac’s Law, etc.

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A Balloon filled with Helium Gas
Credit: indiamart.com

The properties of gas include that they neither have definite shape nor definite volume. Therefore gases can expand to fill any size of the container and occupy far more space than liquid or solid state of matter. The characteristics of gases also include that they are highly compressible. Examples of gases are natural gas, air, helium in a balloon, carbon dioxide, etc.

see also, Everything About First Law Of Thermodynamics Explained

Plasma

Unlike all the other fundamental states of matter (solid, liquid, and gas) Plasma may be the rare state of matter here on earth; but surely it is the most common state of matter in the universe. Just like gases, particles of plasma are vastly separated from one another. Due to the ionization of gas and extremely high kinetic energy, Plasma Matter becomes electrically conductive.
Lightning-as-an-example-of-plasma-present-at-Earth's-surface
Lightning as an example of plasma present at Earth’s surface
Credit: Wikimedia Commons
Properties of plasma are like gases, as they have neither definite shape nor volume. The overall charge of plasma is approximately equal to zero. Facts about plasma include that it can be artificially produced by heating the neutral gas or by applying the strong magnetic field to the neutral gas. Examples of plasma are Stars, Solar Flares, Aurora, Lightning, and Earth’s Ionosphere, etc. Uses of plasma are like in neon lights, arc welding, or in-home appliances like Plasma Displays.

About Atul Sinha

I am a mechanical engineer by profession. Just because of my love for fundamental physics, I switched my carrier, and therefore I just completed my postgraduate degree in physics. Right now I am a loner (as like ever) and a Physics blogger too. My sole future goal is to do a Ph.D. in theoretical physics, especially in the field of cosmology. Because in my view, every part of physics comes within the range of cosmology. And I love traveling, especially the Sole one.

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