What Is a Solid?

A solid is a substance composed of atoms that are tightly packed. It resists forces, has a fixed shape, and a fixed volume. However, it cannot be distorted, changed, or weakened. To understand this, consider the following definition:

Atoms are tightly packed

What does it mean when you say atoms are tightly packed? When we say that atoms are tightly packed, it means that the atoms are very close together. But it also means that there is very little space between the atoms. Therefore, when you push them together, they will have less space to compress. In other words, the density of matter will depend on how closely the atoms are packed. Listed below are some examples of how atoms are packed together and why.

They resist forces

There are three basic states of matter: solids, liquids, and gases. Solids have a definite shape, specific volume, and are stable under normal and shear loads. These properties depend on their atoms and the forces between them. The difference between liquids and solids lies in how each behaves in a certain condition. For example, liquids yield to shear forces, whereas solids resist those forces.

They have a fixed shape

Solids are objects that hold a certain shape. Because solid particles can’t move around, they can’t get closer together. They can only change shape by stretching, breaking, or squeezing. The densest solids are osmium, which weighs 6.5 lbs! The simplest explanation of solids is that they are tightly packed particles that don’t flow. Solids are rigid and can’t change shape easily, and can only be molded by force.

They have a fixed volume

One of the properties that separate liquid from solid is that they have a fixed volume and shape. Liquids are composed of particles that are close to one another but still have enough energy to move around. Solids on the other hand have a variable volume because they can expand and contract, but still keep the same overall size. This property is what gives liquids their shape. Here are some ways to describe the volume of liquids.

They are opaque

Opaque solids are those that cannot transmit light. This is because they do not have any texture, and all of their atoms are surrounded by free electrons. Thus, incident light cannot be reflected. However, it is still possible to see through opaque solids. The only difference between transparent and opaque solids is the wavelengths of light that they are able to absorb. Unless the material is very transparent, then it is opaque.

They are malleable

One of the main differences between solids and liquids is the level of deformation that they are capable of undergoing under stress. Both tensile and compressive stresses affect solids differently. Tensile stress refers to pulling on the ends of the solid, whereas compressive stress is exerted perpendicular to the plane. Malleability of metals is often associated with the ability to be hammered into a sheet or a wire. While metals are commonly ductile and malleable, soft metals like sodium and tin are typically not.

They are ductile

What are ductile solids? The basic definition is that they can be stretched, drawn or hammered thin without breaking. Ductile solids include most metals, including copper. Nonmetals, like tungsten, are less ductile than metals. Copper is an excellent example, and can be twisted into long thin sheets with pliers. The term “ductile” is also used to describe chewing gum.