Standard (basic) states of matter



Energy and Phases of Matter 

Thermal Energy - 

Thermal energy is another form of kinetic energy and that it will always be positive. 

Thermal energy and temperature are proportional, that if the temperature of an object doubles so does the Thermal energy

"Bond" Energy -

Bond energy is typically electrostatic or nuclear energies and are considered to be negative

Energy has to put into an object to "break" bonds, this energy isn't related to temperature change. 


A substance in a solid phase is relatively rigid, has a definite volume and shape.

The atoms or molecules that comprise a solid are packed close together and are not compressible.

Because all solids have some thermal energy, its atoms do vibrate. However, this movement is very small and very rapid, and cannot be observed under ordinary conditions.

Energy -

      Very Low Thermal Energy

      Very High Bonding Energy 

Definition provided by the math and science activity center

Image provided by Alpcentauri 


Liquids have a definite volume, but are able to change their shape by flowing.

Liquids are similar to solids in that the particles touch. However the particles are able to move around.

Since particles are able to touch the densities of liquid will be close to that of a solid.

Since the liquid molecules can move they will take the shape of their container.


     Low Thermal Energy, but higher then a solid

     High Bond Energy, but lower then a solid

Definition provided by the math and science activity center

Image provided by Alpcentauri 


Gases have no definite volume or shape. If unconstrained gases will spread out indefinitely. If confined they will take the shape of their container. This is because gas particle have enough energy to overcome attractive forces. Each of the particles are well separated resulting in a very low density.

Definition provided by the math and science activity center

Introduction to Phases of matter

Phases of matter

Kinetic Energy, Temperature, and Phases of matter

State of Matter

Part 1

Part 2 

Exotic State of Matter 

(not required)


What happens if the temperature of a gas is raised above temperatures that exist on the sun? As a gas' temperature is raised to over 10,000°, its molecules collide so violently that they are broken apart into individual atoms. The negatively charged electrons are knocked completely off the atoms. It is at this point that the plasma state is reached.

So besides being very hot, a plasma is distinguished from a gas by the fact that a plasma's movements are affected by electric and magnetic fields. When the positively charged ions and electrons of a plasma are knocked off the atoms, they can create long-range electric fields. Moreover, the interaction between the ions and the electrons form an electric current; this, in turn, is a source of a magnetic field. The fact that a plasma can generate electric and magnetic fields and, in turn, be affected by them gives rise to a wide variety of new phenomena for which there is no parallel in the other basic three states of matter (solids, liquids, and gases).

Fermionic condensates 

We learned it in grade school. There are three forms of matter: solids, liquids and gases.

But that's not even half right. There are at least six: solids, liquids, gases, plasmas, Bose-Einstein condensates, and a new form of matter called "fermionic condensates" just discovered by NASA-supported researchers (2004).

Fermionic condensates are so new that most of their basic properties are unknown. Certainly they're cold. Jin created the substance by cooling a cloud of 500,000 potassium-40 atoms to less than a millionth of a degree above absolute zero. And they probably flow without viscosity. Beyond that...? Researchers are still learning.

"When you find a new form of matter," notes Jin, "it takes a while to understand it."

Fermionic condensates are related to BECs (Bose Einstein Condensates). Both are made of atoms that coalesce at low temperatures to form a single object. In a BEC, the atoms are bosons. In a fermionic condensate the atoms are fermions.

Definition and diagram provided by NASA

Bose Einstein condensates

     Named for the theorists Satyendra Nath Bose and Albert Einstein who predicted its existence, a Bose-Einstein condensate is an unusual state of matter that arises because of quantum mechanical effects on a collection of entities called bosons. 

     Everything is either a boson or a fermion. 

    The reason why is important to differentiate between bosons and fermions is that they have vastly different quantum mechanical behavior. Identical fermions cannot occupy the same place. This is called the Pauli exclusion principle. For example, you cannot put two electrons spinning in the same direction on top of one other. It is forbidden and never happens in nature. Bosons behave in almost the opposite way. They can overlap. 

     In quantum mechanics, the position of an object is uncertain. An object has a definite probability of being at any given point in space. This probability is encoded in what-is-called a wave function. It is like a "cloud" that tells you the probability that an object has a certain location. The object is more likely to be found in denser parts of the "cloud" and is less likely to be found in the less dense parts. If a region of space has no "cloud," then there is zero chance that the object is there. 
     If one concentrates a large number of identical bosons in a small region, then it is possible for their wave functions to overlap so much that the bosons loose their identity. If a dozen clouds are well separated in the sky, then it is easy to determine where each one is. But if you look up and the 12 clouds have already joined to form one large cloud, it is no longer possible to tell which part comes from the original 12 clouds. A collection of bosons can do the same thing. When this happens, a Bose-Einstein condensate forms. This exotic state of matter is only possible at low temperatures. At high temperatures, the individual bosons not only have small wave functions but they move rapidly and fly apart.

  In summary, in a Bose-Einstein condensate, the individual bosons behave the same and are indistinguishable from each other.  

Definition provide jupiter scientific

 Fermions, on the other hand, are antisocial. They are forbidden (by the "Pauli Exclusion Principle" of quantum mechanics) to gather together in the same quantum state. Any atom with an odd number of electrons + protons + neutrons, like potassium-40, is a fermion.

Bosons are sociable; they like to get together. As a rule of thumb, any atom with an even number of electrons + protons + neutrons is a boson. So, e.g., ordinary sodium atoms are bosons, and they can merge to become Bose-Einstein condensates.