Are there more than three states of matter?

The idea of the matter was first given by Greek philosophers Leucippus and Democritus. The idea was that matter was made of building blocks or particles. They suggested that matter is composed of atoms that are separated by empty spaces. They also proposed that the apparent changes in matter are caused by changes in the way these atoms are grouped together.

Are there more than three states of matter?

We know that matter can exist in different states which are differed from each other in their arrangement of particles. Yes, there are more than three states of matter. Solid, Liquid, Gas, Plasma, and Bose-Einstein Condensate or the fifth state of matter.

Do all substances react in the same way to catalysts?

For example,

if we take an ice cube and some crystals of iodine in two beakers and heat both, will they react to the heat in the same way?

A melting ice cube will create a puddle of water. However, the iodine will react differently: you will see purple vapors of gaseous iodine rising from the beaker, leaving behind a dark deposit. Ice cube and iodine are just two forms of matter. The matter is anything that has mass and occupies volume. All the things that we come across in our daily life are forms of matter.

Solid State

The classification of matter into solids, liquids, and gases is termed as physical classification of matter. In a solid, the constituent particles like atoms, ions, or molecules are most closely packed and have the strongest intermolecular force of attraction. As a result of this, particles are fixed in their position and do not have any freedom of motion except that of vibration about their mean position. This gives rise to the following characteristic properties of a solid.

  • A definite shape and volume
  • In-compressibility
  • No fluidity
  • Poor diffusibility
  • Rigidity

Characteristics of solids

  1. Solids maintain their volume independent of the size or shape of the container in which they are placed in.
  2. Solids are rigid and have definite shape.
  3. Solids diffuse very slowly compared to liquids and gases, due to close packing
  4. Solids are incompressible
  5. Most solids melt on heating, and some sublimate.
  6. Solids have very high mass to volume ratio or density compared to liquid or gases.

Liquid Phase

  1. The liquid state lies in between the gaseous and solid state as there is neither the ordered arrangement like in solids nor the complete disorder of constituents as in gas.
  2. It is generally observed that the properties closely resemble those of gases while a few characters match those of solids.
  3. In light of the kinetic molecular theory, liquids may be regarded as a continuation of gases into the region of small volumes and high inter-molecular attraction.
  4. The cohesive forces in liquid are stronger than those in gases and that keeps these molecules confined to a definite volume.
  5. The positions of the molecules in liquids are not rigidly fixed.
  6. At the same time these forces are not strong enough to entirely eliminate the movements of the molecules in the liquid.

Properties of liquids

  • Appreciable forces of attraction exist between the molecules of a liquid.
  • The molecules in a liquid are in a state of random motion although the extent is much smaller in comparison to gases.
  • The average Kinetic energy of the molecules in a liquid is proportional to the absolute temperature.

An increase in temperature would increase the proportion of the energized particles and result in the lowering of attractive forces between them and ultimately increase the vapor pressure of the liquid. The rate of evaporation of a liquid depends upon the following factors:

  • The temperature of the liquid
  • Attractive forces in the liquid
  • Surface are of the liquid
  • Pressure above the liquid

Gaseous State

In 1654, Otto Von Guericke performed Magdebur hemisphere experiment to show that the air exerted pressure and laid the foundations for the modern concept of gaseous state.

Physical characteristics of gases

All gases show some common characteristics. These are as follows:

  • Gases maintain neither volume nor shape and completely fill the container in which they are introduced.
  • Gases expand when heated
  • Gases diffuse rapidly; we can smell perfume even when applied at a distance very fast
  • Gases are highly compressible; if pressure is increased then volume decreases
  • Almost all gases except a few are colorless

Examples of colored gases

Nitrogen di-oxide – reddish- brown gas

Iodine – violet gas

Chlorine – greenish- yellow gas

Measurable properties of gases

The behavior of gases can be described in terms of certain parameters. 
Mass and amount
The mass of a gas can be determined by weighing the container containing the gas and then emptying the container by taking out the gas and weighing the empty container again. The difference between the two weights would give the mass of gas.
VolumeVolume of a gas is equal to the volume of its equation. Volumes can be expressed in terms of liter (L), milliliter (mL), or cubic centimeter (cm3). The SI unit of volume is cubic meter (m3).

Properties of gases

Gaseous properties are of two classes which are intensive and extensive. The properties that depend upon the amount of gas like mass and volume are called extensive while in uniform gases, where the properties are independent of amount like pressure and temperature are called intensive property.

Changes in States of Matter

Changes of state or phase for a substance can be described on a graph. The graph shows that when water in the solid state absorbs energy its temperature increases until it reaches 0oC (32oF), its melting point. At this temperature, the sample continues to absorb energy, but its temperature does not change. This is because the additional energy is breaking the water molecules out of the fixed solid state. The solid ice changes into liquid water.

Changes in States of Matter

Once the change of state is complete the temperature begins to rise again. The temperature of the liquid rises as heat energy is absorbed until it reaches the boiling point -100oC. Again the temperature stays the same as the additional energy breaks the molecules free of the liquid state. The liquid water changes into water vapor. Once the change from the liquid state to the gas state is complete the temperature begins to rise again.

Physical States of Matter

There are four possible physical states of matter.

  1. Gas: Matter in gaseous state relies on its container for both shape and volume.
  2. Liquid: Matter in the liquid state takes on the shape of whatever container it is put in. However, a liquid has a definite volume that does not depend on the container it is put in.
  3. Solid: Matter in the solid state has a definite shape and volume regardless of the container.
  4. Plasma: A unique state of matter that only appears to be solid. In reality it is an ionized gas. (To ionize an atom or collection of atoms is to give it an electrical charge either by adding or removing one or more electrons)

Matter can change both physically and chemically. A physical change is a change in a substance’s shape, size or state. No chemical reaction is involved in a physical change. The particles that make up the substance remain essentially the same. So a diamond that is pulverized into diamond powder or a potato that gets mashed are both example of a physical change. In each instance the diamond and potato take on a different appearance but they are still made of same particles.

States of matter Definition

The substance we have just described illustrate the three states of matter: solid, liquid and gas. These are defined and illustrated as follows

SolidRigid having a fixed shape and volumeIce cube, diamond, iron bar
LiquidHas a definite volume but takes the shape of its containerGasoline, water, alcohol, blood
GasHas no fixed shape or volume. Takes the shape and volume of its container.Air, helium, oxygen

The state of a given sample of matter depends on the strength of the forces among the particles contained in the matter; the stronger these forces the more rigid the matter.

Fifth State of Matter

Here in this page we are going to discuss the Bose-Einstein Condensate or fifth state of Matter concept.

  1. The emergence of BEC or Bose Einstein condensate as the fifth state of matter was in vogue for long but was approved only recently and is considered as a low energy form of matter.
  2. This matter is considered as matter beyond solids but is less energetic than solids.
  3. Bose Einstein condensate occurs in the fractional micro-Kelvin range, or less than millionths of a degree above absolute zero.
  4. The atoms in a Bose Einstein condensate are locked into all of the same attributions as each other and they are literally indistinguishable.
  5. These particles can slow light down to the residential speed limit. These particles can flow without friction.
  6. These particles can demonstrate the strangest characteristics of quantum mechanics. They are effectively super-atoms, groups of atoms that behave as one.
  7. The classic example of BEC was considered as Helium for a long time. During the transition of liquid Helium into super-fluid Helium, the viscosity disappears and it behaves like a quantum fluid.
  8. The possibility of a phase change into a Bose-Einstein-like condensate theoretically applies for all bosonic particles and may actually include the electron-hole pairs called exciton s and half exciton, and half photon quasi-particles called polaritons.
  9. Applications of Polaritons have led to development of new generation cameras like the charged coupled device or CCD chips in digital cameras. The magical properties of super-fluidity where matter flows with zero friction can help us prevent the loss of electric power during transmission, faster computers and faster communication modules. 


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