States of matter aggregation: types and examples

When talking about the degree of interaction, it refers to how strong the particles join with each other to form sets, which in turn end up defining a phase or material state. Thus, we have the three fundamental states of aggregation of matter: solid, liquid and gas, all present here on Earth on large scales.

Oceans and seas are examples of liquids. The atmosphere and the air we breathe correspond to the gaseous state . Meanwhile, icebergs and the earth’s crust represent the solids of planet Earth. In addition to these three states, the colloidal one can be mentioned, seen in the clouds of the sky and in countless natural objects.

Liquid aggregation state

Water is an example of the liquid state . Source: Pxhere.

In liquid the interactions between the particles are strong, but not strong enough to deprive them of free movement. Therefore, the sets of particles define a substance that is capable of occupying the entire volume of a container, but that at the same time experiences the attractive force of gravity.

Consequently, the liquid has a surface, which spans the entire width of the container. This is observed in any bottle, tub, tank, well, crucible, etc. When the container is shaken, the liquid tends to spill over its edges or to splash directly onto the ground.

A special characteristic of liquids is that they can flow following the dimensions of a channel or pipe.

Some examples of liquids are:








– Mercury

-Carbon tetrachloride

-Titanium tetrachloride

-Melted salts

-Fused metals

-Liquid nitrogen




-Glacial acetic acid

There are liquids that flow more than others, which means that they have different viscosities. This is a property of liquids that serves to characterize them; that is, to differentiate them from each other.

Gaseous aggregation state

Gases are visualized as bubbles in liquids or as mists or vapors. The interactions between its particles are weak, which causes that there is a lot of distance between them. Consequently, they form a substance that hardly feels the effects of gravity, and that diffuses throughout the volume of the container that contains it.

In gases, the particles, whether they are atoms, ions or molecules, have the maximum freedom of movement. Depending on their masses, some gases can be denser than others, which directly affects their speed of propagation through space.

This state of aggregation of matter is considered elusive, fleeting, elusive (untouchable) and dispersed.

Some examples of gases are:

-Water steam

-Carbon dioxide










-Natural gas






-Nitrogen oxides (NO x )

-Sulfur dioxide and trioxide


-Sulfur hexafluoride

-Dimethyl ether

Gases in general are undesirable, because in case of leaks they spread rapidly throughout the space, and they also usually represent severe risks of fire or poisoning. Likewise, gases develop dangerous pressures during many industrial processes, and are the pollutants or wastes that most impact the atmosphere.

Solid state of aggregation

Minerals are in the solid state

The solid state of aggregation is characterized by its particles having strong interactions. Consequently, they experience all the gravitational force of the planet, so they define their own volumes no matter what containers they are in, leaving various hollow or empty spaces.

Solids are characterized by existing as crystalline or amorphous bodies, depending on the degree of arrangement of their particles. They also have other properties such as hardness, impenetrability and density .

Some examples of solids are:



-Dry ice





-You go out




-Vegetal fibers


-Textile fibers


-Solid fats




-Metal complexes

Solids in general are the most desirable substances, as they are the easiest to store and handle. Likewise, they correspond to the bodies with which we can most interact with our senses. It is for this reason that the development of new materials almost always arouses more interest than the discovery of new liquids or gases.

State of colloidal aggregation

Fog is an example of what is meant by a state of colloidal aggregation

Although it is not considered one of the fundamental states of matter, together with solid, liquid or gas, the truth is that the colloidal state is quite common in nature and in industry, covering an immense number of mixtures. Precisely, the colloidal state does not occur in pure substances, but in mixtures, where one of the components is dispersed in a larger phase.

Being a mixture, the two phases present their own states of aggregation. For example, the dispersed phase can be solid, while the major or dispersing phase can also be solid, gaseous or liquid. There are several possibilities and combinations. Therefore, many colloidal bodies are found in nature.

Some examples of colloidal substances are:



-Mist and mist


-Ice creams



-Tomato sauce



-Peanut butter


-Painted glass







However, suspensions as such are outside the aggregation states of matter, since the interactions between their components are not as “intimate” as occurs with colloids.

They are simply mixtures whose properties do not differ too much from what is known for liquids or solids. For example, mud, a slurry, is simply considered “water with a lot of soil.”

Plasma aggregation state

Plasma lamp

In the state of aggregation of plasma, a passage is given to exotic matter. We no longer speak of atoms, molecules or ions, but of protons, neutrons and electrons. It originates when a gas receives high electric shocks, or experiences immense heat. When this happens, it ionizes, that is, it loses electrons to gain positive charges.

As it loses electrons, gaseous ions are formed, until finally their atomic nuclei are naked. There will then be a “golden soup” of protons, neutrons and electrons. In this soup the particles have a collective behavior, which means that their movements directly influence those of their neighbors. They do not show a behavior as free as that of gases.

Plasmas are characterized by being bright and hot substances, which make up the stellar “fabric”. Therefore, they are found in the stars and in our Sun , possibly being the most abundant state of matter in the Universe. However, they can also originate here on Earth.

Some examples of plasmas are:


-Electric rays

-Neon lights


-Fluorescent lamps

-Solar winds


-Plasma televisions

-Tail of comets

The degree of ionization of the plasma and, therefore, its energy, can vary, with plasmas that can be used in applications and instruments of daily life.

Bose Einstein Condensate

Predicted by scientists Albert Einstein and Satyendra Nath Bose, the Bose-Einstein condensate is a state in which bosons, in this case rubidium or sodium atoms, agglomerate in the lowest energy state at very low temperatures, touching the Absolute zero.

At these temperatures, the atoms agglomerate or condense in such a way that they behave as if they were a single entity: a super atom.

Neutron aggregation state

Neutron matter is a few steps ahead of plasma. Now, the conditions that the particles experience are so intense that protons and electrons fuse to form neutrons. Therefore, you will have an unimaginable quantity of highly compacted neutrons.

The state of neutron aggregation is found in the famous neutron stars, being part of the most interesting celestial bodies and investigated by astronomy. Some coined the term ‘neutronium’ to matter composed exclusively of neutrons, and it has been a source of inspiration for many works of science fiction.

Photonic aggregation state

Photonic matter is the product of a strange interaction of photons in light. Source: Pexels.

So far, there has been talk of the interactions that exist between atoms, protons, neutrons, electrons, molecules, etc., to form different states of aggregation of matter. Going even further, bordering on fantasy, interactions between photons of light are possible. However, not just any light, but a very low energy one.

To get very low-energy photons to interact, and thus form “photonic molecules” of two or three photons, it is necessary to make them pass through a cloud of frozen rubidium atoms. At these temperatures and conditions, photons enter the cloud as individual entities, and leave them in pairs or trios.

It is speculated that such interactions could one day be used to store information in quantum computers, making them much more powerful and faster.

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