Physical Properties of Matter

ScienceStruck Staff Oct 16, 2018
As everyone knows, matter is "anything that has mass and occupies space". Now, let's learn more about the physical properties of matter.
As we were taught in school, matter is described in the most common definition as any substance that has mass and occupies space. Every physical object is composed of matter in the form of atoms. These atoms are in turn composed of protons, neutrons, and electrons. Matter exists in four states: solid, liquid, gas, and plasma.
The state of most substances can transit between these various phases depending on the amount of heat the material absorbs or loses. For instance, heat can melt ice into water, and turn water into steam. Such an activity is known as a transition between one phase to another.
There are four general properties of matter, viz., weight, volume, mass, and density. Of these, mass is of great importance, as it is the amount of matter existing in an object.
Physical properties are concerned with the energy and states of matter. Properties of a substance that do not change the chemical nature of matter or produce a new substance are defined as the physical properties. Changes in state, like color, smell, crushing a can, melting an ice cube, or even breaking a bottle are some examples of physical properties.

Intensive Properties

These properties are extremely important and they do not depend on the amount of matter present in a substance. In short, it is a property independent of the amount of mass. This is because every kind of matter possesses a distinctive set of intensive properties that distinguish it from the other kind of matter.
Intensive properties include:
  • Color
  • Odor
  • Boiling Point
  • Freezing/Melting Point
  • Density
  • Luster
  • Malleability (The property of a substance to be beaten into thin sheets)
  • Ductility (The ability of a substance to be drawn into threads, wires, etc.)
  • Conductivity (The ability of transmitting the flow of energy, electricity, and sound)
  • Hardness (The property of a substance being rigid and resistant to pressure)

Extensive Properties

Speaking of extensive properties, these depend on the amount of matter present in a substance. That is, they vary directly with the mass, volume, etc. These include:
  • Mass
  • Weight (A vertical force exerted by a mass of an object as a result of gravity)
  • Volume
  • Length

Examples To Differentiate Between The Two Properties

Extensive:
Mass of iron in blood: depends on volume of blood in the body
Electrical resistance of a piece of 50 gauge copper wire: depends on length of the wire

Intensive:
Percentage of alcohol in beer: percentage is same for any similar sized sample
Mass of iron present in 10 ml of blood: same for any 10 ml sample
In this manner, if a quantity of matter is divided into two equal parts, each of them will have the same value of intensive property and the other half will have an extensive one. For better learning of the nature of a particular substance, one needs to learn to identify the properties of matter.