# States of Matter: Characteristics of Solids

### States of Matter:

Matter exists in four states. They are:

1. Solid
2. Liquid
3. Gas
4. Plasma

All matter is made up of atoms.

An understanding on relationship between atoms and particles will give you a better insight on the states of matter. Below is a brief explanation:

An atom is defined the smallest part (particle) of an element that can take part in a chemical reaction. Consider the simple analogy below:

• From your salt pack at home, attempt to pick out the smallest single salt particle from it. If you can do that, then you may have probably succeeded in picking out an atom of the salt, although this is practically impossible.

The above concept of particles (and atoms) will be used to explain the solid state of matter.

### Solid state of matter

Solids are substances whose atoms or particles are tightly packed together. As a result, they have definite shapes and volume. This is true because a strong force of attraction exists between the solid particles, thus holding them firmly together.

You will not be able to put your fingers through a solid, unless you separate its tightly packed particles; perhaps by grinding the solid. This instance can be seen in a sugar cube or maggi cube. We will need to grind its particles before we can put our hands through them.

In the case of the maggi cube (above), we will usually expose each of its particles or atoms into our food by grinding it. This will enable each particle of the maggi to easily dissolve into the food.

If you wish to expose the atoms in solids, you will have to grind the solid substance into its fineness of particles.

Although the atoms in solids are tightly packed together, we still have tiny spaces between them. Based on this fact, the more tightly packed solids are (that is; the smaller the spaces between its particle), the more dense (heavy) they are likely to be.

The density of solids will also depend on the type of element they are made up of. For instance, although iron (Fe) and sodium (Na) are solid elements, iron will always be denser than sodium because its atoms has a larger mass than those of sodium.

The image below shows the closely arranged particles (atoms) in solids:

Solid particles do not require any compression because they are already tightly packed together. Meanwhile, recall that compression means to bring closer the particles that makes up a substance.

### Characteristics of solids

1. They have definite shape and volume.
2. Their particles are closely packed together, hence they are usually incompressible.
3. Their particle possesses very little energy for movement and rotational motion.
4. Their particles exhibit vibrational motion within their position.
5. The particles of crystalline solids are orderly arranged while those of amorphous solids aren't arranged orderly. Examples of crystalline solids include common salt, sugar and sulphur while rubber, plastics and glass are amorphous solids.

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