List of states of matter

Last updated

States of matter are distinguished by changes within the properties of matter associated with external factors like pressure and temperature. States are usually distinguished by a discontinuity in one amongst those properties: say, raising the temperature of ice produces a transparent discontinuity at 0 °C as energy goes into natural action, rather than temperature increase. The classical states of matter are usually summarized as: solid, liquid, gas, and plasma. Within the 20th century, increased understanding of the more exotic properties of matter resulted within the identification of many additional states of matter, none of which are observed in normal conditions.


Low-energy states

Classical states

Modern states

Very high energy states

Related Research Articles

Bose–Einstein condensate State of matter

A Bose–Einstein condensate (BEC) is a state of matter which is typically formed when a gas of bosons at low densities is cooled to temperatures very close to absolute zero (-273.15 °C). Under such conditions, a large fraction of bosons occupy the lowest quantum state, at which point microscopic quantum phenomena, particularly wavefunction interference, become apparent macroscopically. A BEC is formed by cooling a gas of extremely low density, about one-hundred-thousandth (1/100,000) the density of normal air, to ultra-low temperatures.

Fermion one of two classes of elementary particles

In particle physics, a fermion is a particle that follows Fermi–Dirac statistics and generally has half odd integer spin 1/2, 3/2 etc. These particles obey the Pauli exclusion principle. Fermions include all quarks and leptons, as well as all composite particles made of an odd number of these, such as all baryons and many atoms and nuclei. Fermions differ from bosons, which obey Bose–Einstein statistics.

Pauli exclusion principle physical law: two identical fermions cannot occupy the same quantum state at the same time

The Pauli exclusion principle is the quantum mechanical principle which states that two or more identical fermions cannot occupy the same quantum state within a quantum system simultaneously. This principle was formulated by Austrian physicist Wolfgang Pauli in 1925 for electrons, and later extended to all fermions with his spin–statistics theorem of 1940.

Superfluid helium-4 is the superfluid form of helium-4, an isotope of the element helium. A superfluid is a state of matter in which matter behaves like a fluid with zero viscosity. The substance, which looks like a normal liquid, flows without friction past any surface, which allows it to continue to circulate over obstructions and through pores in containers which hold it, subject only to its own inertia.

State of matter Distinct forms that different phases of matter take on

In physics, a state of matter is one of the distinct forms in which matter can exist. Four states of matter are observable in everyday life: solid, liquid, gas, and plasma. Many intermediate states are known to exist, such as liquid crystal, and some states only exist under extreme conditions, such as Bose–Einstein condensates, neutron-degenerate matter, and quark–gluon plasma, which only occur, respectively, in situations of extreme cold, extreme density, and extremely high energy. For a complete list of all exotic states of matter, see the list of states of matter.

Degenerate matter is a highly dense state of fermionic matter in which particles must occupy high states of kinetic energy to satisfy the Pauli exclusion principle. The description applies to matter composed of electrons, protons, neutrons or other fermions. The term is mainly used in astrophysics to refer to dense stellar objects where gravitational pressure is so extreme that quantum mechanical effects are significant. This type of matter is naturally found in stars in their final evolutionary states, such as white dwarfs and neutron stars, where thermal pressure alone is not enough to avoid gravitational collapse.

The Fermi energy is a concept in quantum mechanics usually referring to the energy difference between the highest and lowest occupied single-particle states in a quantum system of non-interacting fermions at absolute zero temperature. In a Fermi gas, the lowest occupied state is taken to have zero kinetic energy, whereas in a metal, the lowest occupied state is typically taken to mean the bottom of the conduction band.

Fermi gas Physical model of gases composed of many non-interacting identical fermions

An ideal Fermi gas is a state of matter which is an ensemble of many non-interacting fermions. Fermions are particles that obey Fermi–Dirac statistics, like electrons, protons, and neutrons, and, in general, particles with half-integer spin. These statistics determine the energy distribution of fermions in a Fermi gas in thermal equilibrium, and is characterized by their number density, temperature, and the set of available energy states. The model is named after the Italian physicist Enrico Fermi.

Fermi liquid theory a theoretical model of interacting fermions that describes the normal state of most metals at sufficiently low temperatures

Fermi liquid theory is a theoretical model of interacting fermions that describes the normal state of most metals at sufficiently low temperatures. The interactions among the particles of the many-body system do not need to be small. The phenomenological theory of Fermi liquids was introduced by the Soviet physicist Lev Davidovich Landau in 1956, and later developed by Alexei Abrikosov and Isaak Khalatnikov using diagrammatic perturbation theory. The theory explains why some of the properties of an interacting fermion system are very similar to those of the ideal Fermi gas, and why other properties differ.

Spontaneous symmetry breaking Physical process

Spontaneous symmetry breaking is a spontaneous process of symmetry breaking, by which a physical system in a symmetric state ends up in an asymmetric state. In particular, it can describe systems where the equations of motion or the Lagrangian obey symmetries, but the lowest-energy vacuum solutions do not exhibit that same symmetry. When the system goes to one of those vacuum solutions, the symmetry is broken for perturbations around that vacuum even though the entire Lagrangian retains that symmetry.

Supersolid spatially ordered material with superfluid properties

A supersolid is a spatially ordered material with superfluid properties. In the case of helium-4, it has been conjectured since the 1960s that it might be possible to create a supersolid. Starting from 2017, a definitive proof for the existence of this state was provided by several experiments using atomic Bose-Einstein condensates. The general conditions required for supersolidity to emerge in a certain substance are a topic of ongoing research.

Fermionic condensate non-classical state of matter

A fermionic condensate is a superfluid phase formed by fermionic particles at low temperatures. It is closely related to the Bose–Einstein condensate, a superfluid phase formed by bosonic atoms under similar conditions. The earliest recognized fermionic condensate described the state of electrons in a superconductor; the physics of other examples including recent work with fermionic atoms is analogous. The first atomic fermionic condensate was created by a team led by Deborah S. Jin in 2003.

In physics, quasiparticles and collective excitations are emergent phenomena that occur when a microscopically complicated system such as a solid behaves as if it contained different weakly interacting particles in free space. For example, as an electron travels through a semiconductor, its motion is disturbed in a complex way by its interactions with all of the other electrons and nuclei; however it approximately behaves like an electron with a different mass traveling unperturbed through free space. This "electron with a different mass" is called an "electron quasiparticle". In another example, the aggregate motion of electrons in the valence band of a semiconductor or a hole band in a metal is the same as if the material instead contained positively charged quasiparticles called electron holes. Other quasiparticles or collective excitations include phonons, plasmons, and many others.

Luttinger liquid a theoretical model describing interacting electrons (or other fermions) in a one-dimensional conductor (e.g. quantum wires such as carbon nanotubes)

A Luttinger liquid, or Tomonaga–Luttinger liquid, is a theoretical model describing interacting electrons in a one-dimensional conductor. Such a model is necessary as the commonly used Fermi liquid model breaks down for one dimension.

Helium-4 isotope of helium

Helium-4 is a stable isotope of the element helium. It is by far the more abundant of the two naturally occurring isotopes of helium, making up about 99.99986% of the helium on Earth. Its nucleus is identical to an alpha particle, and consists of two protons and two neutrons.

A quantum fluid refers to any system that exhibits quantum mechanical effects at the macroscopic level such as superfluids, superconductors, ultracold atoms, etc. Typically, quantum fluids arise in situations where both quantum mechanical effects and quantum statistical effects are significant.

Matter Substance that has mass and volume

In classical physics and general chemistry, matter is any substance that has mass and takes up space by having volume. All everyday objects that can be touched are ultimately composed of atoms, which are made up of interacting subatomic particles, and in everyday as well as scientific usage, "matter" generally includes atoms and anything made up of them, and any particles that act as if they have both rest mass and volume. However it does not include massless particles such as photons, or other energy phenomena or waves such as light or sound. Matter exists in various states. These include classical everyday phases such as solid, liquid, and gas – for example water exists as ice, liquid water, and gaseous steam – but other states are possible, including plasma, Bose–Einstein condensates, fermionic condensates, and quark–gluon plasma.

In quantum mechanics, a boson is a particle that follows Bose–Einstein statistics. Bosons make up one of two classes of particles, the other being fermions. The name boson was coined by Paul Dirac to commemorate the contribution of Satyendra Nath Bose, an Indian physicist and professor of physics at University of Calcutta and at University of Dhaka in developing, with Albert Einstein, Bose–Einstein statistics—which theorizes the characteristics of elementary particles.

Superfluidity Non-classical state of matter

Superfluidity is the characteristic property of a fluid with zero viscosity which therefore flows without any loss of kinetic energy. When stirred, a superfluid forms vortices that continue to rotate indefinitely. Superfluidity occurs in two isotopes of helium when they are liquefied by cooling to cryogenic temperatures. It is also a property of various other exotic states of matter theorized to exist in astrophysics, high-energy physics, and theories of quantum gravity. Superfluidity is often coincidental with Bose–Einstein condensation, but neither phenomenon is directly related to the other; not all Bose-Einstein condensates can be regarded as superfluids, and not all superfluids are Bose–Einstein condensates. The semiphenomenological theory of superfluidity was developed by Lev Landau.

Helium cryogenics

In the field of cryogenics, helium [He] is utilized for a variety of reasons. The combination of helium’s extremely low molecular weight and weak interatomic reactions yield interesting properties when helium is cooled below its critical temperature of 5.2 K to form a liquid. Even at absolute zero (0K), helium does not condense to form a solid. In this state, the zero point vibrational energies of helium are comparable to very weak interatomic binding interactions, thus preventing lattice formation and giving helium its fluid characteristics. Within this liquid state, helium has two phases referred to as helium I and helium II. Helium I displays thermodynamic and hydrodynamic properties of classical fluids, along with quantum characteristics. However, below its lambda point of 2.17 K, helium transitions to He II and becomes a quantum superfluid with zero viscosity.


  1. A. Pickover, Clifford (2011). "Plasma". The Physics Book. Sterling. pp. 248–249. ISBN   978-1-4027-7861-2.