Phases of matter

Phases of matter

Phases of matter      01/30/16


Complex matter is invariably found in a physical state. A state of matter can be defined as the macroscopic order that the components are in. There are four (main) type of macroscopic states of matter, Solids, liquids, gases, and Plasmas. Every complex object can be found in one of those states and can transfer between one of those states through a change in temperature and pressure.

The most intuitive phase of solid is the solid. Objects in a solid state have their molecules packed closely together, with the forces so strong that the neighboring molecules are only able to vibrate. Consequently, solids have a definite shape and volume (unless deformation by an outside force impinges upon it, but that’s a topic for a later lecture).


Given the precise conditions, an object can also be extant in a liquid state. If a solid object is heated above the melting point, then the molecules begin to break free of their rigidity but the intermolecular forces are still strong enough to hold them together. As a result, liquids do not have a dependant shape (their geometry is contingent upon the space of the container that they are suffused in).  A most intriguing and peculiar facet of nature is that of the triple point, in which the state transitions for a certain object are all bordering one another.


If one is to change the pressure or temperature conditions to the point where the molecules are able to break completely free of neighboring van der wal force impingements, then a gas is formed. Gases have no definite shape or volume, so they are free to move around with little constraint. If enough heat is applied to a gas, then it will undergo a process known as ionization in which all of the electrons will break free of the molecules and a plasma will be formed. Plasmas have much of the same physical properties as a gas except for the fact that they are completely electrically conductive (not to say that gases can not be electrically conductive, just not on the same level as Plasmas)

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