A state of matter is among the distinctive forms that different phases of matter take on. Four states of issue are observable in day-to-day life: solid, liquid, gas, and plasma. Plenty of other says are recognized such together Bose–Einstein condensates and neutron-degenerate matter however these only occur in extreme instances such together ultra cold or ultra thick matter. Other states, such together quark–gluon plasmas, are believed to be possible but stay theoretical because that now.

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Historically, the distinction is made based on qualitative differences in properties. Matter in the solid state maintains a solved volume and also shape, with component corpuscle (atoms, molecules or ions) nearby together and fixed right into place. Matter in the fluid state maintains a resolved volume, but has a variable shape that adapts to right its container. Its particles room still near together but move freely. Issue in the gaseous state has both change volume and also shape, adapting both to fit that container. The particles room neither close together nor solved in place. Issue in the plasma state has actually variable volume and also shape, but and neutral atoms, it has a significant number of ions and electrons, both that which can move around freely. Plasma is the many common type of visible issue in the universe.<1>


The four an essential states that matter. Clockwise from top left, they room solid, liquid, plasma and gas, represented by an ice sculpture, a autumn of water, electric arcing native a tesla coil, and also the air approximately clouds respectively.

The four fundamental states


In a solid, the particles (ions, atom or molecules) are closely packed together. The forces in between particles are strong so the the particles cannot relocate freely but can only vibrate. As a result, a solid has actually a stable, identify shape, and a definite volume. Solids deserve to only readjust their shape by force, together when damaged or cut.

In crystalline solids, the corpuscle (atoms, molecules, or ions) space packed in a routinely ordered, repeating pattern. There are various various crystal structures, and also the very same substance have the right to have an ext than one framework (or hard phase). For example, iron has a body-centred cubic framework at temperatures below 912 °C, and a face-centred cubic structure between 912 and 1394 °C. Ice has actually fifteen known crystal structures, or fifteen solid phases, i beg your pardon exist at various temperatures and pressures.<2>

Glasses and also other non-crystalline, amorphous solids without long-range order space not thermal equilibrium soil states; therefore they are described below as nonclassical claims of matter.

Solids can be transformed into liquids by melting and also can also adjust directly right into gases v the procedure of sublimation.



Structure of a classical solitary atom liquid. Atoms have many nearest next-door neighbors in contact, however no long-range order is present.

A liquid is a almost incompressible fluid that conforms come the shape of its container but retains a (nearly) constant volume elevation of pressure. The volume is identify if the temperature and also pressure are constant. As soon as a heavy is heated above its melting point, it i do not care liquid, offered that the pressure is greater than the triple suggest of the substance. Intermolecular (or interatomic or interionic) pressures are quiet important, but the molecules have actually enough energy to relocate relative to each other and the structure is mobile. This way that the form of a fluid is no definite however is established by its container. The volume is usually better than that of the corresponding solid, the best known exemption being water, H2O. The highest temperature in ~ which a given liquid deserve to exist is its critical temperature.<3>



The spaces in between gas molecules are very big. Gas molecule have very weak or no bonds in ~ all. The molecule in “gas” deserve to move freely and also fast.

A gas is a compressible fluid. Not just will a gas conform come the shape of that container yet it will likewise expand to to fill the container.

In a gas, the molecule have sufficient kinetic power so that the result of intermolecular pressures is little (or zero for perfect gas), and also the usual distance in between neighboring molecule is much better than the molecule size. A gas has actually no definite form or volume, yet occupies the whole container in which it is confined. A liquid may be converted to a gas by heater at constant pressure come the boil point, or rather by reducing the press at consistent temperature.

At temperatures below its an essential temperature, a gas is likewise called a vapor, and also can be liquefied through compression alone there is no cooling. A vapour have the right to exist in equilibrium v a fluid (or solid), in which situation the gas pressure equals the vapor pressure of the fluid (or solid).

A supercritical liquid (SCF) is a gas who temperature and pressure are over the an important temperature and an important pressure respectively. In this state, the distinction between liquid and gas disappears. A supercritical liquid has the physical properties the a gas, but its high density confers solvent properties in some cases, which leader to advantageous applications. For example, supercritical carbon dioxide is used to extract caffeine in the manufacture of decaffeinated coffee.<4>



Like a gas, plasma walk not have definite form or volume. Unequal gases, plasmas room electrically conductive, produce magnetic fields and also electric currents, and respond strongly to electromagnetic forces. Positively charged nuclei swim in a “sea” that freely-moving disassociated electrons, comparable to the method such dues exist in conductive metal. In reality it is this electron “sea” that allows matter in the plasma state to conduct electricity.

The plasma state is frequently misunderstood, yet it is in reality quite usual on Earth, and the bulk of people observe the on a continuous basis without even realizing it. Lightning, electrical sparks, fluorescent lights, neon lights, plasma televisions, some types of flame and the stars space all instances of illuminated matter in the plasma state.

A gas is commonly converted to a plasma in one of two ways, either from a vast voltage difference in between two points, or by exposing that to incredibly high temperatures.

Heating issue to high temperatures reasons electrons to leaving the atoms, causing the existence of cost-free electrons. At really high temperatures, such as those existing in stars, the is presume that basically all electrons are “free”, and that a really high-energy plasma is essentially bare nuclei swimming in a sea that electrons.

Phase transitions

Main article: step transitions

A state of matter is also characterized by phase transitions. A phase transition indicates a adjust in structure and also can be known by one abrupt adjust in properties. A unique state the matter have the right to be defined as any collection of states identified from any kind of other collection of says by a step transition. Water have the right to be said to have actually several distinctive solid states.<5> The appearance of superconductivity is connected with a phase transition, for this reason there space superconductive states. Likewise, ferromagnetic claims are demarcated by phase transitions and have distinctive properties. Once the readjust of state occurs in stages the intermediate measures are dubbed mesophases. Such phases have been exploited through the introduction of liquid decision technology. <6><7>

The state or phase of a given collection of matter can readjust depending ~ above pressure and temperature conditions, transitioning to various other phases as these conditions change to favor their existence; for example, hard transitions to liquid with an increase in temperature. Close to absolute zero, a problem exists together a solid. As warm is included to this problem it melts right into a liquid at its melting point, boils right into a gas at its boil point, and if boil high sufficient would go into a plasma state in i m sorry the electrons are so energized the they leave their parent atoms.

Forms of matter that are not composed of molecules and are organized by different forces can likewise be taken into consideration different says of matter. Superfluids (like Fermionic condensate) and the quark–gluon plasma space examples.

In a chemical equation, the state of issue of the chemicals might be presented as (s) because that solid, (l) for liquid, and (g) because that gas. An aqueous equipment is denoted (aq). Matter in the plasma state is seldom supplied (if at all) in chemistry equations, so over there is no traditional symbol to denote it. In the rare equations that plasma is used in plasma is symbolized together (p).

Non-classical states


Main article: Glass

Glass is a non-crystalline or amorphous solid material that exhibits a glass shift when heated in the direction of the liquid state. Glasses can be make of quite various classes that materials: not natural networks (such as home window glass, make of silicate to add additives), metallic alloys, ionic melts, aqueous solutions, molecular liquids, and also polymers. Thermodynamically, a glass is in a metastable state through respect come its crystalline counterpart. The conversion rate, however, is practically zero.

Crystals with some level of disorder

A plastic crystal is a molecular solid v long-range positional order but with constituent molecule retaining rotational freedom; in one orientational glass this level of liberty is frozen in a quenched disordered state.

Similarly, in a turn glass magnetic disorder is frozen.

Liquid decision states

Main article: fluid crystal

Liquid crystal states have properties intermediate between mobile liquids and also ordered solids. Generally, they room able to circulation like a liquid, but exhibiting long-range order. Because that example, the nematic phase is composed of long rod-like molecules such as para-azoxyanisole, i beg your pardon is nematic in the temperature selection 118–136 °C.<8> In this state the molecules flow as in a liquid, however they all point in the very same direction (within every domain) and also cannot turn freely.

Other species of liquid crystals are described in the main write-up on this states. Several types have technological importance, for example, in liquid crystal displays.

Magnetically ordered

Transition steel atoms regularly have magnetic moments as result of the network spin of electrons that remain unpaired and do not form chemical bonds. In part solids the magnetic moment on various atoms space ordered and also can form a ferromagnet, one antiferromagnet or a ferrimagnet.

In a ferromagnet—for instance, heavy iron—the magnetic minute on every atom is set in the exact same direction (within a magnetic domain). If the domain names are likewise aligned, the hard is a permanent magnet, i beg your pardon is magnetic also in the absence of an external magnetic field. The magnetization disappears once the magnet is heated to the Curie point, which because that iron is 768 °C.

An antiferromagnet has actually two networks of equal and opposite magnetic moments, i beg your pardon cancel each other out so that the network magnetization is zero. For example, in nickel(II) oxide (NiO), fifty percent the nickel atoms have moments set in one direction and half in the contrary direction.

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In a ferrimagnet, the two networks the magnetic moments are opposite but unequal, so the cancellation is incomplete and also there is a non-zero net magnetization. An instance is magnetite (Fe3O4), which has Fe2+ and Fe3+ ions with various magnetic moments.