WHAT ARE STATES OF MATTER?
There are 5 known states of matter. These are the forms which matter can take. These are: solids, liquids, gases, plasmas, and Bose-Einstein condensates. Plasmas and Bose-Einstein Condensates are only created in extreme conditions and only able to be seen properly in a laboratory. We will focus on solids, liquids, and gasses.
WHAT IS A SOLID?
A solid is a state of matter which has a fixed shape and cannot flow or be squashed. These are made up of atoms (imagine small lumps of matter) in a lattice structure. This is a closely packed pattern where the atoms cannot move over each other. These atoms vibrate on the spot, but do not travel.
EXAMPLES OF SOLIDS
Examples of solids are rock, trees, glass, and plastic, but there are many more.
WHAT IS A LIQUID?
A liquid is a state of matter which can flow and take the shape of its container, but cannot be squashed to fit in a smaller volume. These are also made of atoms in a random arrangement. These atoms have more energy than in a solid and can move over one another.
EXAMPLES OF LIQUIDS
Water is a type of liquid. Petrol and oil are also liquids.
WHAT IS A GAS?
A gas is a state of matter which can flow and completely fill its container. It can also be squashed. These are also made of atoms, but these atoms have much more energy and are separated by gaps. The atoms are far apart and can move freely.
EXAMPLES OF GASES
The air we breathe is a gas, so are the fumes released from the oil fuelled electric generators.
GOING BETWEEN STATES OF MATTER
If you increase the energy of a solid by heating it, you increase how much the atoms vibrate. At a certain energy, the atoms have enough energy to overcome the forces holding them in the structure and begin to be able to move over one another. This means the matter becomes a liquid. This process is called ‘melting’. An example of this is ghee which goes runny when held in the hand. Increasing the energy further gives the atoms more energy until they have enough energy to overcome the attraction of the other atoms and become a gas. An example of this is a pool of water in the sun. The amount of liquid in the puddle decreases as more becomes a gas and is removed to the air. This process is called ‘evaporation’.
The reverse of evaporation is called ‘condensation’ and the reverse on melting is called ‘solidifying’.