Q:

Why do solids have definite shapes and volumes?

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Quick Answer

Solids have definite shapes and volumes because their atoms and molecules are held together firmly by the strong inter-molecular forces. At low temperatures, the kinetic energy in the solid is usually not enough to overcome these intermolecular forces, so the solid remains in the same state.

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Why do solids have definite shapes and volumes?
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Full Answer

The molecules of solids are held together so tightly that their movement is limited, and this is what gives them shape and volume. Their ability to resist compression is another property that makes solids retain their shape and volume. In the solid state, substances have high densities, and their diffusion rates are far lower than those of liquids.

Generally, solids are classified into two categories depending on how the constituent molecules and atoms are arranged in the solid. These are crystalline solids and amorphous solids.

In crystalline solids, the molecules and the atoms are organized into definite shapes so that when the solid is shattered, the orderly arrangement of the ions, molecules or atoms results in straight edges. In amorphous solids, the molecules and the atoms have no definite arrangement, and the solid consists of disorganized and tangled strings of molecules. When these solids are shuttered, the edges appear as curved because there is no definite internal structure. A perfect example of an amorphous solid is glass.

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Related Questions

  • Q:

    Which states of matter have no definite shape or volume?

    A:

    Gases and plasmas have neither definite shapes nor definite volumes. They both expand to fill available space, and can be reshaped by their containers. Liquids have definite volume, while solids have both definite shape and definite volume.

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  • Q:

    Are metals solids, liquids or gases at room temperature?

    A:

    The majority of metals listed on the period table of elements are solids at room temperature or 71.6 degrees Fahrenheit, with mercury being an exception since it solidifies at -38.2 degrees. Metals such as cesium, francium and gallium are listed as liquids on the periodic table of elements because they melt at temperatures of between 80.6 F and 98.6 degrees.

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  • Q:

    Why do solids, liquids and gases expand when heated?

    A:

    Most solids, liquids and gases expand when they are heated because the molecules that make up the substance move more rapidly, which puts more distance between each of the molecules. This property of matter hold true irrespective of the state of matter in most cases. There are exceptions to this general rule; water, for example, expands when it transitions from liquid to solid form.

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  • Q:

    What does "sublimation" mean in science?

    A:

    Sublimation is the scientific process in which solids are changed to gases without passing through the liquid phase. Sublimation occurs when temperatures and pressures are below the triple point. The triple point is the temperature and pressure at which substances can coexist in solid, liquid and vapor forms.

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