A glass holds H20 in three states of matter: ice cream (solid), water (liquid) and vapor (gas).(Image credit: nikkytok | Shutterstock)
Matter is the "stuff" that provides up the world — whatever that takes up space and has actually mass is matter. 

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

Atoms come together to type molecules, which are the building blocks for all species of matter, according to Washington State University. Both atoms and also molecules are hosted together by a form of potential energy referred to as chemical energy. Unlike kinetic energy, i beg your pardon is the energy of an object in motion, potential power is the power stored in one object. 

The 5 phases that matter

There are four natural says of matter: Solids, liquids, gases and plasma. The fifth state is the synthetic Bose-Einstein condensates.

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In a solid, particles room packed tightly with each other so lock don"t move much. The electrons of every atom room constantly in motion, so the atoms have actually a little vibration, however they are fixed in your position. Since of this, particles in a solid have really low kinetic energy.

Solids have actually a definite shape, and also mass and also volume, and also do not conform come the shape of the container in i m sorry they room placed. Solids additionally have a high density, definition that the particles room tightly packed together. 


In a liquid, the corpuscle are more loosely packed than in a solid and also are able to flow about each other, offering the liquid an unknown shape. Therefore, the liquid will certainly conform to the form of that container.

Much choose solids, liquids (most the which have actually a lower thickness than solids) room incredibly complicated to compress. 


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


Plasma is not a common state the matter here on Earth, however it may be the most usual state of matter in the universe, follow to the Jefferson Laboratory. Stars are essentially superheated balls the plasma. 

Plasma consists of very charged corpuscle with very high kinetic energy. The noble gases (helium, neon, argon, krypton, xenon and radon) are regularly used to make glowing signs by using power to ionize them come the plasma state. 

Bose-Einstein condensate

The Bose-Einstein condensate (BEC) was developed by scientists in 1995. Using a combination of lasers and also magnets, Eric Cornell and Carl Weiman, researchers at the joint Institute because that Lab Astrophysics (JILA) in Boulder, Colorado, cooled a sample of rubidium to in ~ a couple of degrees of pure zero. At this exceptionally low temperature, molecular activity comes an extremely close to stopping. Due to the fact that there is almost no kinetic energy being moved from one atom to another, the atoms begin to clump together. There room no longer thousands of different atoms, just one "super atom." 

A BEC is provided to examine quantum mechanics top top a macroscopic level. Light shows up to sluggish down together it passes with a BEC, allowing scientists to study the particle/wave paradox. A BEC also has plenty of of the properties of a superfluid, or a liquid that flows without friction. BECs are additionally used to simulate conditions that could exist in black color holes.

Going with a phase

Adding or removing power from matter causes a physical change as matter moves from one state to another. Because that example, including thermal energy (heat) to fluid water reasons it come become vapor or vapor (a gas). And also removing energy from liquid water causes it to end up being ice (a solid). Physical changes can additionally be resulted in by motion and pressure.

Melting and also freezing

When warmth is used to a solid, the particles start to vibrate faster and also move aside from that apart. Once the problem reaches a certain mix of temperature and also pressure, its melt point, the hard will start to melt and turn into a liquid. 

When two says of matter, such together solid and liquid, space at the equilibrium temperature and also pressure, added heat included into the mechanism will not reason the overall temperature that the problem to rise until the entire sample will the same physical state. For example, once you placed ice into a glass of water and leave it the end at room temperature, the ice and water will certainly eventually come to the exact same temperature. Together the ice melts from warm coming indigenous the water, the will remain at zero levels Celsius until the whole ice cube melts prior to continuing come warm. 

When warmth is removed from a liquid, the particles slow down and also begin to clear up in one place within the substance. When the problem reaches a cool enough temperature in ~ a particular pressure, the freeze point, the fluid becomes a solid.

Most liquids contract as they freeze. Water, however, increases when that freezes into ice, resulting in the molecule to press farther apart and also decrease the density, i beg your pardon is why ice floats on top of water. 

Adding extr substances, such together salt in water, can transform both the melting and also freezing points. For example, including salt to snow will certainly decrease the temperature the water freezes ~ above roads, do it safer for drivers.

There is likewise a point, well-known as the triple point, where solids, liquids and also gases all exist simultaneously. Water, for example, exist in every three states at a temperature the 273.16 Kelvin and a push of 611.2 pascals.


Most liquids contract as soon as they freeze yet water expands, making that less thick when it becomes ice. This distinctive characteristic allows ice to float in water, choose this enormous iceberg in Antarctica. (Image credit: NASA/Operation Icebridge)


When a hard is converted straight into a gas without going v a fluid phase, the process is recognized as sublimation. This may take place either once the temperature that the sample is promptly increased past the boiling suggest (flash vaporization) or when a problem is "freeze-dried" by cooling that under vacuum problems so the the water in the problem undergoes sublimation and is gotten rid of from the sample. A few volatile substances will undergo sublimation in ~ room temperature and also pressure, such as frozen carbon dioxide, or dried ice.


Vaporization is the counter of a liquid to a gas and can occur through either evaporation or boiling.

Because the corpuscle of a liquid space in constant motion, they frequently collide through each other. Every collision also causes power to be transferred, and also when enough energy is transferred to particles near the surface ar they might be knocked totally away native the sample as totally free gas particles. Liquids cool as they evaporate because the power transferred to surface ar molecules, which reasons their escape, gets carried away through them.

Liquid boils when sufficient heat is added to a liquid to reason vapor bubbles to kind below the surface. This boiling suggest is the temperature and also pressure in ~ which a liquid becomes a gas.

Condensation and also deposition

Condensation occurs when a gas loser energy and also comes together to kind a liquid. Because that example, water vapor condenses into liquid water.

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Deposition occurs when a gas transforms straight into a solid, there is no going through the fluid phase. Water vapor becomes ice cream or frost once the air touching a solid, such as a tongue of grass, is cooler than the remainder of the air.

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This write-up was update on Aug. 21, 2019, through Live scientific research Contributor Rachel Ross.