Some Basic Concepts of Chemistry

Nature of Matter

Do you matter? Okay, that was silly on our part to ask! Of course, you do. You matter and you ARE matter! Do you know what it means? What is matter? And what is the nature of matter? Well, that is what we are going to study in this chapter. We will look at the different aspects of matter and study about their nature. But, first tell us, what is matter?

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What is Matter?

We all know what matter is. Isn’t it? Everything we see around is matter. But, then air doesn’t classify as matter. NO! Air IS matter! So, a matter is anything that occupies space and has mass.

All the buildings, the bridges, the atomic particles are all matter. Even our DNA, the air, the molecules inside our bodies, everything is matter.

We know that matter comprises of particles. These particles are atoms and molecules. In this section, we will cover the nature of matter. Based on its physical state, we can divide the nature of matter into three major categories.

what is Matter

Nature of Matter

  • Solids: Solids are all those substances having their particles very close to each other. There exist strong intermolecular forces between these particles. The particles are firmly held in their positions. These particles have only vibratory motion. Solids have a definite shape and definite volume. Examples include Wood, iron, aluminium etc.
  • Liquids: Liquids comprise of all those substances with weak intermolecular forces. The particles are capable of minimum movement. They have a definite volume. However, they do not have a definite shape. They usually take the shape of the container in which we place them. Examples include water, milk, etc.
  • Gases: Gases are those forms of matter having very weak forces between their molecules. Hence, in gases, the molecules are free to move. The distance between molecules is large as compared to solids and liquids. Gases have neither fixed shape nor a definite volume. They tend to completely occupy the container in which they are placed. E.g. air, oxygen, hydrogen, methane, etc.

We can change the state of matter from one form to another by changing the conditions of pressure and temperature. We must also note that the nature of matter depends on its composition as well. If the matter consists of more than one type of particles then it is a mixture. On the other hand, if it consists of a single type of particles then it is a pure substance.

We can further classify mixtures into homogeneous and heterogeneous mixtures. Pure substances are also categorised further as elements and compounds. The nature of matter continues to be a vast subject of research and recent advancements have revealed some other states of matter. The two other states of matter that scientists have found recently include the Boson-Einstein condensate and plasma

Solved Example for You

Q: What is a compound?

Answer:  A compound is a matter consisting of two or more different elements bonded chemically. A molecule forms when two or more atoms or elements (may be the same type or different types) join together chemically. For example, O2 is a molecule (diatomic) as it contains 2 oxygen atoms that are chemically bonded. However, CO2 is a compound containing two different atoms, Carbon and Oxygen that are bonded chemically.

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