States Of Matter: Features, Characteristics And Examples

We explain what with the states of matter, how they change from one state of aggregation to another and what are their general characteristics.

What are the states of matter?

The states of matter, or states of aggregation of matter , are the different phases in which the different existing substances appear , according to the binding forces that exist between their particles. They are: solid state, liquid state, gaseous state and plasma state.

There are also condensed states (made in the laboratory) and the supersolid state, but the latter never occur in nature.

Each state has its own physical characteristics, and the chemical ones - those that determine whether it is the same substance or another - remain unchanged.

It is possible to take matter from one state of aggregation to another , through a series of processes that alter its temperature or pressure to pass the same substance into a solid, liquid or gas according to its natural resistances.

Solid state

Solid state The solid state has particles that form rigid and narrow structures.

Matter in solid state presents a well-defined body with its own constant volume and shape. This is because the particles of solid substances form rigid, narrow structures that offer resistance to external forces applied to them.

They are more or less resistant to fragmentation and have little or no fluidity . They have high cohesion and also “shape memory”, that is, they tend to elastically regain their original shape when subjected to force.

A good example of matter in a solid state is ice , since its chemical composition is still H 2 O (water), but in a solid state.

Liquid state

Liquid state Water is the most abundant liquid on the planet.

The liquid state of matter is characterized by a much looser union between its atoms than it is in solids. This gives it fluidity, one of its main characteristics. Liquid matter does not have its own shape but assumes that of the container in which it is found.

It presents less cohesion than solids, but greater compressibility and usually exhibits contraction in the presence of cold, except for a few compounds such as water, which expand when cooled.

The classic example of the liquid state is water (H 2 O) , the most abundant liquid on the planet .

Gaseous state

Gaseous state The gaseous state presents fast moving particles.

When matter is in a gaseous state , it is called “gas.” Its particles are loosely united , expanded throughout the surrounding space, and have a very slight force of attraction to each other. That is why they do not have a defined shape or volume.

In this state, matter has a very low density because its particles are in relative disorder, moving very quickly in space; and because of their low response to gravity , they can float. In addition, they have almost zero cohesion and variable volume, but a great capacity to be compressed.

Water vapor is a clear example of the gaseous state , as it continues to be the same chemically (H 2 O) but in the gas state.

State changes

State changes Evaporation can occur through the addition of heat.

  • Merger . It is the process by which a solid is brought to a liquid state, normally through an increase in its temperature (adding heat). This is because the additional energy increases the mobilization of the particles, separating them from the tight structure that gives them their solidity.
  • Evaporation . It is the process that converts liquid matter into gas slowly and gradually, through the addition of heat. This extra energy further separates its loosely bound particles and allows them to acquire the gaseous state and rise (having a lower density than air ).
  • Boil . It is the process by which a liquid is transformed into vapor when its temperature exceeds the boiling point (temperature at which the vapor pressure of the liquid equals the pressure around the liquid). There is a difference between evaporation and boiling. Evaporation occurs at any temperature, it is enough to increase the temperature of the liquid and it will pass into the gas phase slowly. Boiling, on the other hand, necessarily occurs when the temperature of the liquid exceeds its boiling point.
  • Sublimation . It is the process that transforms solid matter into gas directly, without going through the liquid state. Normally it requires very specific pressure conditions, as occurs with ice or snow in the heights of the mountains , which cannot melt into a liquid due to the low temperature at which it is found, but it can go directly to vapor.
  • Solidification . It is one of the inverse processes of fusion, that is, the one that transforms liquid matter into solid. It is commonly done through increasing the pressure of the liquid, that is, compression, which slows down the movement of the particles and allows them to attract each other with greater intensity.
  • Freezing . It is a process in which a liquid is transformed into a solid by reducing its temperature below its freezing point (the temperature at which the liquid freezes due to the extraction of heat energy).
  • Condensation and liquefaction . They are two similar processes, in which matter in a gaseous state becomes a liquid state. The difference between the two is that the first, condensation, occurs due to the contact of the gas with a colder surface, as in the case of the dew that forms during the early morning on the windows. In the second case, on the other hand, the modified factor is pressure, as is the case with gases used for cooking, which are compressed in drums.
  • Deposition . Also called reverse sublimation, it is the process that passes matter from the gaseous state to the solid, directly, without going through the liquid first. It is the opposite of sublimation and usually occurs under specific pressure and temperature conditions, which form crystals of matter from the gas dispersed in the container.

The above content published at Collaborative Research Group is for informational and educational purposes only and has been developed by referring reliable sources and recommendations from technology experts. We do not have any contact with official entities nor do we intend to replace the information that they emit.

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