Nature of Matter

Anything that we see around us is made up of matter. Matter is anything which has mass and occupies space. Before the 20th century, the term matter included ordinary matter composed of atoms and excluded other energy phenomena such as light or sound. This concept of matter may be generalized from atoms to include any objects having mass even when at rest, but this is ill-defined because an object's mass can arise from its (possibly massless) constituents' motion and interaction energies. Thus, matter does not have a universal definition, nor is it a fundamental concept in physics today. Matter is also used loosely as a general term for the substance that makes up all observable physical objects.

All the objects from everyday life that we can bump into, touch or squeeze are composed of atoms. This atomic matter is in turn made up of interacting subatomic particles—usually a nucleus of protons and neutrons, and a cloud of orbiting electrons . Typically, science considers these composite particles matter because they have both rest mass and volume.

By contrast, massless particles, such as photons, are not considered matter, because they have neither rest mass nor volume. However, not all particles with rest mass have a classical volume, since fundamental particles such as quarks and leptons are considered "point particles" with no effective size or volume.

Nevertheless, quarks and leptons together make up "ordinary matter", and their interactions contribute to the effective volume of the composite particles that make up ordinary matter.


A property is any characteristic of matter which can be detected or measured, and can be used to identify or describe the matter. Properties can be of two types – physical properties and chemical properties.

1. Physical Properties

Physical properties are properties that can be measured or observed without changing the chemical nature of the substance. Some physical properties are as follows:

Color (intensive)

Density (intensive)

Boiling point (intensive): Temperature at which a substance gets boil

Melting point (intensive): Temperature at which a substance gets melt

Volume (extensive)

Mass (extensive)

Intensive : Any characteristic of matter that does not depend on the amount of the substance present.

Extensive : Any characteristic of matter that depends on the amount of matter being measured.

2. Chemical Properties

The chemical property measuring, that property must lead to a change in the substance’s chemical structure. Some examples of chemical properties are as follows:

The heat of combustion is the energy released when a compound undergoes complete combustion (burning) with oxygen. ΔHc is the symbol for the heat of combustion.

Chemical stability refers to whether a compound will react with water or air (chemically stable substances will not react). Hydrolysis and oxidation are such reactions and are both chemical changes.

Flammability refers to whether a compound will burn when exposed to flame. The burning is a chemical reaction—commonly a high-temperature reaction in presence of oxygen.

The preferred oxidation state is the lowest-energy oxidation state that a metal will undergo reactions in order to achieve (in the case another element is present to accept or donate electrons).