Molecular Motion in Solids, Liquids, and Gases

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This Demonstration shows idealized representations for the molecular behavior of the three principal states of matter: solid, liquid, and gas. The hypothetical substance has a freezing point of 200 K and a boiling point of 400 K.

Contributed by: S. M. Blinder (March 2011)
Open content licensed under CC BY-NC-SA



Snapshot 1: gaseous state: molecules are far apart and in rapid random motion, occupying full volume of container

Snapshot 2: liquid state: molecules condense into a mass of definite volume (but variable shape) with smaller-amplitude molecular motions

Snapshot 3: solid state: molecules occupy ordered crystal lattice, vibrating about their equilibrium positions

Snapshot 4: hypothetical perfect crystal at absolute zero, when all molecular motion ceases

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