SITEMAP   School Physics Notes: Thermal energy 4.1 Physical state particle models

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Thermal energy & particle theory: 4.1 Introduction to using kinetic particle theory explaining the properties of the three different states of matter in terms of a thermal energy store

Doc Brown's Physics exam study revision notes

4.1 Introduction to using kinetic particle theory to explain the structure and physical properties of the three states of matter

The particle model has been developed to explain the properties of the three states of matter, namely gas, liquid and solid.

The particle model also provides a way of describing the changes of state between a gas, liquid and the solid state of a material.

To change the state of a material requires either the input of heat or the removal of heat from the material and this is called the latent heat. and consider the concept of internal energy.

The 'model' particle pictures below give you an idea of how the states of matter (gas, liquid and solid) are viewed when applying the theoretical ideas to explain how the three states of matter behave, especially when subjected to a change in temperature.

You should be able to recognise simple diagrams to model the difference between solids, liquids and gases - the three states of matter.

Gases: There are almost no forces of attraction between gas particles, they have the most kinetic energy of the three states, the particles are completely free to move around at random and they move at high speeds in all directions - so they have a higher kinetic energy store than liquids. The free moving particles have kinetic energy of movement and there is much empty space between the particles.

The thermal energy store of a gas is mainly the kinetic energy of particle movement.

Liquids: There are weak forces of attraction between liquid particles (if there wasn't, you couldn't have a liquid!), the particles are relatively close together but free to move around at random but with lower speeds than in the gas. The free moving particles still have kinetic energy of movement from one place to another.

The thermal energy store of a liquid  is mainly the kinetic energy of particle movement.

Solids: In solids there are stronger forces of attraction between the particles which prevents the particles moving around and passing each other. The particles are held in fixed positions in a regular arrangement. Their even lower kinetic energy is due to the particles (atoms or molecules) vibrating around their mean or average positions in the crystal structure. So solid particles have virtually no movement kinetic energy in their thermal energy store in terms of movement from one place to another, as in the case of gases or liquids.

The thermal energy store of a solid is mainly the kinetic energy of particle vibration.

See also The density of materials and the particle model of matter

Keywords, phrases and learning objectives for particle models and thermal energy stores

Be able to use the kinetic particle theory to explain thermal energy store properties of the three states of matter.

Be able to describe the thermal energy store of a gas, liquid or a solid.

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