22 States of matter

It’s easy to remember the three states of matter: solid, liquid, and gas, but it’s not that simple since there are 22 states of matter!

The smallest particles in the case determine whether it’s solid, liquid, or gas. There are 22 known states of matter, including gases, liquids, and solids. These states can be changed by varying temperatures or pressure.

1. Solid

A solid is defined as a substance that has a definite shape and volume and whose constituent particles (molecules, atoms, ions) are packed closely together. Solids cannot flow as liquids do: when force is applied to a solid, it will deform but not break apart. This makes solids good for constructing things such as skyscrapers or furniture, but solids don’t have much flexibility in terms of changing their shape or packing more tightly or loosely than they already are. The solid-state is one of three states of matter at standard temperature and pressure (STP). The other two states are liquid and gas. If you cool a material down to its freezing point, it changes from a liquid into a solid-state; if you heat up water until it boils, its molecules move so quickly that they escape from each other’s attraction, making steam; if you keep heating steam until all water has evaporated into gas form, then you have created dry ice.

2. Liquid

A solid that flows like a liquid is called a fluid. Fluid flow occurs when some of its molecules slide past others. When looking at a fluid, you can’t easily see individual molecules because they move about freely. For example, water (H2O) is a common fluid on Earth, and it has been found on Mars too. It exists as water vapor in Earth’s atmosphere and can exist as solid ice or liquid water. That helps explain why your fingers go numb in cold weather-the temperature falls below 32 F/0 C, which means that your body’s fluids are turning to ice (solid-state). However, if temperatures rise above 212 F/100 C, your fluids will boil into steam (gas state). Water is one of only three known substances that can exist in all three states: gas, liquid, and solid. The other two are mercury (Hg) and ammonia (NH3). Both mercury and ammonia have low boiling points compared with water; mercury boils at -38 F/-36 C while ammonia boils at -33 F/-28 C.

3. Gas

If a substance becomes a gas, it means that its particles are completely separated from one another. In layman’s terms, it’ll spread out and fill whatever container you put it in — but without any real shape or form. A balloon full of helium is a good example of a gas (the helium atoms have enough space between them to inflate without bumping into each other). There are many different types of gases: Some will burn, some will freeze your skin off, and others aren’t really good for anything. But they all have one thing in common: They’re made up entirely of single particles called molecules, and these molecules move around with extreme kinetic energy. The more particles there are, and the faster those particles move, the more energetic a gas is. And while gasses can take on almost any volume depending on how much pressure you apply to them, they don’t always take on their own volume; they can also expand to fit whatever container you put them in. This makes gases ideal for filling balloons!

4. Plasma

The fourth state of matter-plasma-is formed when a substance with a high temperature reaches its ignition point, where it fuses into a gas. The sun is made out of plasma. So are fluorescent light bulbs and arc welders. Plasma is also used to accelerate particles in particle accelerators like CERN’s Large Hadron Collider, which recently discovered evidence for the Higgs boson particle; if you’re watching TV or listening to music on your home entertainment system, you can thank plasma for that as well (plasma displays and digital radio are two examples). While most substances tend to become liquids or solids at higher temperatures, one liquid that can become plasma under extreme conditions is called dropleton.

5. Bose-Einstein Condensate

The Bose-Einstein condensate is a form of matter that occurs at ultra-low temperatures (and thus extremely high densities). This state was predicted by Satyendra Nath Bose and Albert Einstein in 1924. It is a specific phase of matter with unusual properties, such as quantum coherence. The first true Bose-Einstein condensate was created by Eric Cornell and Carl Wieman at the JILA laboratory in Boulder, Colorado, in 1995. They used ultracold rubidium atoms, cooled to within a few billionths of a degree above absolute zero. At these temperatures, all atoms occupy their lowest possible energy state, which means they can be considered bosons — named after Satyendra Nath Bose, who predicted their existence in 1924. When cooled further to within one-millionth of a degree above absolute zero, all bosons occupy exactly the same energy level — resulting in identical collective behavior.

6. Supercritical Fluid

A new supercritical fluid has been discovered that can dissolve materials in their normal form. The supercritical fluid is created when a Jahn-Teller metal solidifies into a three-dimensional crystal structure called a string net liquid. The metal and its salt are submerged in a solvent to create either a metal-salt solution or a metal cluster solution. The metallic salt clusters contain two types of molecules: one that forms chains of intermolecular bonds and one with no weakly bonded electrons to interact with neighboring molecules. When pressure is applied, they form cross-links with each other until they completely cover each other up-and eventually themselves. Once all possible cross-links have formed, there’s nothing left for any additional chains to connect with, so they stop forming. This means that at a certain point, there will be no more room for any more cross-links. This point is known as an absolute phase transition because it occurs at exactly one temperature (in contrast to an orderly transition). In addition to being able to dissolve matter in its normal state without changing it chemically, supercritical fluids can also remove substances from substances without changing them chemically by simply dissolving them out.

7. Degenerate Matter

In quantum mechanics, the degenerate matter is an idealized state in which all quantum energy states are filled with electrons. This occurs at very low temperatures (i.e., extremely high pressures) and explains many unusual properties of these materials. When an electron is excited by the absorption of a photon, it has to either return to its ground state or be forced into an already occupied higher-energy level via a process called pairing. This pairing prevents excitation, so no additional radiation can occur. In other words, all possible excitations have been filled up or degenerated. The consequence of such full occupation is that all thermal motion ceases, even at zero kelvin: there will be no more collisions between particles because there are none left to collide. Degenerate matter is thus a Bose-Einstein condensate (BEC). It was predicted by Albert Einstein in 1907 as part of his theory of specific heat capacity but was not observed until 1995 when Eric Cornell and Carl Wieman produced such a condensate using ultracold rubidium atoms cooled with lasers. The discovery earned them half of the 2001 Nobel Prize for Physics for producing the first example of a Bose-Einstein condensate.

8. Photonic Matter

A new state of matter has been created by researchers at Purdue University in Indiana, who found that some materials can act as both an insulator and a semiconductor. The photonic matter is something completely different, said Purdue physics professor Andrew Weiner, whose study was published in Nature Materials. His group’s findings could have important implications for information technology and quantum computing. Most objects are either good conductors or insulators (for example, lightbulbs, water, or plastic). But when matter transitions from being a poor conductor to a good conductor at very low temperatures, it becomes photonic-instead of electrons moving through it as charge carriers, they can only do so collectively (photonically) via quantum tunneling.

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Originally published at https://www.technopython.com.

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