What are the three phases of matter? What are the differences among them? If you are one of those who think about nature in their free time, you are not alone. Many human minds think about the same, and scientists continue to find the answers to several mysteries around us and things hidden from us.
Some of the things that we have come to know about the world around us have made it easier for us to understand more about nature and allowed scientists to use the same knowledge in various fields of their applications.
For example, chemistry and the study of physics through the recent years gave us more knowledge about the forms in which three phases of matter exist around us. Now we know that three phases of matter exist in the form of solid, liquid, or gas. These facts are now being used in various fields like gas chromatography.
Chromatography is a physical technique that uses certain principles of the substances in a mixture and then separates them. Gas chromatography is one such example in which gaseous components of a mixture are separated through various techniques. Chromatography can be done and seen even by students in school using a simple paper strip.
THREE PHASES OF MATTER – SOLIDS, LIQUIDS, AND GASES
Everything that is visible to us or makes up the world we live in is matter. Some essential characteristics of the matter are that it takes space and has weight. Furthermore, scientists have also found that matter, no matter which substance, is fundamentally made up of small particles known as atoms. They combine with other atoms to form molecules.
These molecules can exist entirely on their own. Still, in nature, molecules are present in a large number, and depending on their arrangement with each other and some other factors, they either form a solid, a liquid, or a gas.
A concrete structure is formed if the constituent molecules are very close to each other, and the force of attraction between the molecules is powerful. The space between the molecules in the case of a solid is significantly less.
With a little more space between the molecules and a weaker force of attraction between the constituent molecules, the liquids form, one of the three phases of matter. The gases are the last, with the weakest force of attraction between the constituent molecules and the maximum space between them.
Sometimes, a particular substance can exist in all three phases of matter depending on external factors like temperature or pressure. One example is water. A water molecule is the same in all the cases, but depending on the temperature of the surroundings, it may exist either as ice, the solid form, water, the liquid form, or as water vapor, the gaseous form.
Beyond these three phases of matter, a fourth state has also been found, known as plasma. This state of matter is only found in too high temperatures. In the plasma state, the temperature is so high that most of the chemical bonds are already broken, and it also makes the electrons from the atom get ripped away from the nucleus.
After the electrons are ripped away, what remains is the positively charged nucleus of an ion. This state of matter makes up a massive portion of matter in the universe and is found in stars like the sun.
THREE PHASES OF MATTER AND CHROMATOGRAPHY
Chromatography is a technique used in various laboratories for separating various substances based on their affinities towards a particular common substance known as the stationary phase.
An elementary example of chromatography can be seen in school laboratories where children use the technique of paper chromatography to see different components of a mixture on a paper strip.
Gas chromatography is used when two or more gases are to be separated from one another; in other words, the mobile phase is gaseous. The other phase used to separate the components is called the stationary phase and can either be a solid or a liquid.
This is a very reliable and accurate technique that allows one to measure and study the components of a mixture. It is used in food analysis to test the aroma of the components, test the presence of contaminants, and ensure food quality and maintain a standard of taste.
It is also used by pharmaceutical companies to manufacture and test the chemicals used in drugs for various purposes, to test the purity of synthesized drugs, etc. It is also used widely to test air quality and study more about pollution and the environment.
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