Matter -Definition, stages, 7 state and examples

Matter -Definition, stages, 7 state and examples


Matter is constituted of very small particles such as atoms, molecules and ions. It is anything that has mass and occupies space.

Stages of Matter

Matter exists in three states namely: solid, liquid and gas. The major factor that is responsible for matter existing in three different states is the intermolecular force. Also, the differences between these three states of matter is the level of movement of their particles.

Solid contains particles that are arranged in the lattice form. The molecules often vibrate about their fixed positions and do not move freely. In terms of shape, volume and size, solid have definite shape and size. Solid are incompressible i.e can’t be reduced.

Solid has a large density which means that they may sink or float in the fluid. Solid may dissolve in some liquids. Solid can exist either as crystalline that is definite geometric form- in one pattern) or amorphous (powered non- orderly particles). The temperature has a great effect on matter as it changes to liquid or gas.

A liquid is a fluid that conforms to the shape of its container but that retains a nearly constant volume independent of pressure. Liquids have a definite volume.

Liquids have no specific shape but take up the shape of their container. Just like solids, liquids are incompressible. They are less dense than solid. Liquids can dissolve solids and gases. Liquids evaporate from open containers. At times, liquid may or may not mix with other liquids. The effect of temperature on liquid is that a decrease changes it to solid. An increase changes the liquid to gas.

Gas is a state of matter that does not have a fixed size, shape and volume. They assume the shape and volume of its container. Its intermolecular force is weak and maybe negligible hence the freedom at high speed in all directions. Gases are easily compressible.

They can flow and diffuse completely into one another forming a homogeneous mixture. Gases may dissolve in some liquids and may be entrapped in the form of bubbles within liquids. It expands with an increase in temperature: changes to liquid with a decrease in temperature.

It is important to note that recently, two new states of matter have been added. They are plasma and Bose-Einstein condensates (man-made).

Change of State

  1. A given substance can exist as solid, liquid or gas. Change of state of matter occurs as temperature changes (heated or cooled).
  2. The changes are sublimation (solid to gas without passing through liquid state). Examples of such substances include diamond, iodine, and ammonium chloride. There is the absorption of heat during this process.
  3. Melting is when solid changes to liquid when heated. For example, take an ice cube from the freezer, place it in a warm room, the ice will absorb energy from the air around it. The absorbed energy will cause the force holding it together to slip out of its fixed position. Then melting takes place. Absorption of heat is from the environment.
  4. Evaporation is when liquid changes to gas when heated.
  5. Condensation is when gas changes to liquid when cooled. There is no absorption of heat as heat is released into the environment. Example, when you have your bath.
  6. Freezing is when liquid changes to solid. The process occurs in the freezer when there is heat transfer between the warmer tray and the colder air. The warm water loses heat to the cold air in the freezer and it continues till energy is completely lost. Then a force of attraction cause it to remain in a fixed position. This is when water turns to ice block.
  7. Recombination is when plasma changes into a gas.
  8. Ionization is when gas changes into plasma.

Examples of Matter

All living things are examples of matter as well as non-living things and man-made objects. Anything that can be smelled, touched and taste is an example of matter. A person, a pet, insects, a tree, bacteria, gold, oxygen, air, clouds, water, vegetable oil, snow, Jupiter, The Sun, wood, a cake, a paper, an ice cream, a computer, a table, paint, a glass, a plastic, a shirt, blood, a steel, sand etc

There are several things that don’t meet the definition of matter, they are Time, Sound, Sunlight, Rainbow, Love, Thoughts, Gravity, Microwaves, Heat, Memories, Information, Reflections, Hate, Angry, Light.

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