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Properties of Matter and their Measurement

  • Last Updated : 02 Dec, 2021

Every substance has its own set of characteristics. Physical and chemical properties can be used to classify these properties. Physical properties are those that may be measured or observed without affecting the substance’s identity or composition. Physical properties include odour, colour, density, and so on. Chemical properties are those in which the substance undergoes a chemical change. Chemical properties include acidity, basicity, reactivity, and so on. The physical and chemical properties of matter and their measurements are discussed in detail below.

What is Matter? 

Any substance with mass and volume that takes up space is referred to be matter. Matter is defined as something with mass that takes up space. Matter makes up all physical structures, and the state or process of matter is an easily recognized property of matter. Solid, liquid, and gas are the three basic states of matter.

Everything in our universe is formed of matter. Substances and atoms are made up of microscopic particles of matter. These atoms make up the items we see and touch every day. The matter is defined as everything that has mass and fills space. The mass of an object determines how much matter it contains.

Physical Properties of Matter

  • The matter is made up of microscopic particles known as atoms, and they can be represented or interpreted as anything that occupies space. Both the mass and volume properties must be displayed.
  • The features that allow us to distinguish one substance from another are known as properties. A physical property is a characteristic of matter that is unrelated to its chemical makeup.
  • Density, colour, hardness, melting and boiling points and electrical conductivity are all physical properties.
  • Any property that can be measured, such as an object’s density, colour, mass, volume, length, malleability, melting point, hardness, odour, temperature, and so on, is referred to as a property of matter.

We frequently encounter fundamental physical quantities such as mass, length, time, and temperature.

  • Mass measurement is one of the most common techniques performed by chemists. This is crucial since it indicates the quantity of matter present.
  • The length, area, and volume of an object are all used to determine its size. The length of an object is one dimension, the area of the object is two dimensions, and the volume of the object is three dimensions of space.
  • Time is also an interesting measure since it allows us to estimate how long a process or chemical reaction will take.
  • Temperature is a significant physical quantity that indicates a body’s degree of hotness or coldness. Temperature fluctuations that occur during chemical reactions are of particular interest to chemists.

Chemical Properties of Matter

Chemical properties are properties that can only be measured or observed during the transformation of matter into a certain type of matter. These include reactivity, flammability, and the ability to rust. Reactivity is the tendency of matter to react chemically with other substances. Chemical qualities include flammability, toxicity, acidity, numerous types of reactivity, and heat of combustion. When it comes to differentiating compounds, chemical characteristics are particularly useful. When a substance is being transformed into another substance, only then the chemical qualities can only be observed.

  • Reactivity– Reactivity is the property of matter that allows it to mix chemically with other substances. Certain materials have high reactivity, whereas others have low reactivity. Even in the presence of water, potassium, for example, is exceedingly reactive. When a pea-sized chunk of potassium is mixed with a small amount of water, it explodes.
  • Acidity– It is a chemical attribute that describes a substance’s capacity to react with an acid. When certain metals react with different acids, they generate compounds. Acids and bases combine to form water, which neutralizes the acid.
  • Flammability– It is the property of a substance that allows it to burn. When matter burns, it reacts with oxygen to produce a variety of compounds. A flammable matter is anything that burns, such as wood.
  • Toxicity – The degree to which a chemical element or a mixture of chemicals can harm an organism is referred to as toxicity.

Intensive and Extensive Properties of Matter

The matter has either extensive or intensive physical and chemical properties. The amount of matter being weighed is proportional to the extensive properties, including mass and volume. The amount of matter present, for example, has no effect on density or color.

  1. Intense properties of matter- An intensive property is a bulk property, meaning it is a local physical property of a system that is independent of its size or volume of material. The qualities of intensive matter are those that are unaffected by the amount of matter present. For example, pressure and temperature are both intense properties.
  2. Extensive property of matter- An extensive property is a property that is reliant on the amount of matter in a sample. Mass and volume are two of the many extensive properties available. The vast property of a system is determined by its scale or the volume of materials in it. Extensive properties are those in which the value of a system’s property equals the sum of its parts’ values.

Expressing a Physical Quantity 

A physical quantity’s value is always stated in two parts. (i)  the numerical value; (ii) the unit. A box’s weight, for example, can be stated as 6500 g or 6.5 kg. 6500 or 6.5 is a numerical quantity that conveys no significant information. As a result, every experimental value must be expressed in units.

The standard of reference adopted to measure any physical amount is specified as a unit.

Naturally, a simple unit system for giving numerical values to the observed or calculated quantities is required. Some fundamental units, such as mass, length, and time. These are known as fundamental units since they are independent units that cannot be deduced from any other unit. These units can be used to derive units for other quantities, which are referred to as derived units.

There are various unit systems to choose from. A study committee of the French Academy of Science established a system known as “the metric system” for the first time in 1791, which became popular in the scientific community around the world. The metric system’s core units are the grams for mass, the metre for length, and the litre for volume. In 1957, India adopted the metric system. The metric system is a decimal system in which physical quantity units are connected in powers of ten. A prefix affixed to the unit generally indicates the distinct powers.

SI Units

The International System of Units, known as SI units, has been widely adopted by scientists. The General of Weights and Measures adopted these units in 1960. SI units are abbreviations for Systeme Internationale, and the name originates from the French word. In the SI system, there are seven base units. All additional units can be derived from these base units, which correspond to seven important scientific quantities. The following table lists the seven basic SI units.

Physical QuantitySymbol for quantityName of UnitSymbol
Length              Lmeterm
Time              tseconds
Mass              mkilogramkg
Temperature               TkelvinK
Luminous intensity               Ivcandelacd
Electric current               IampereA
Amount of substance               nmolemol

Despite the fact that the SI system’s temperature unit is Kelvin, the Celsius scale (0C) is still widely utilized in our daily lives. These two units are linked in the following way:

Temperature in K

n (K) = 0C +273.15

Sample Questions

Question 1: What is the significance of matter properties?


Scientists must comprehend the properties of matter. The three fundamental forms of matter are solid, liquid, and gas. Most matter can exist in any of these states, depending on its physical characteristics. Scientists work with a wide variety of materials in particular.

Question 2: Give the name of a property that is influenced by the amount of matter in a sample.


A property that is dependent on the amount of substance in a sample is known as extensive property.

Question 3: What are the qualities of matter that may be observed?


Features or qualities of materials or objects that we can describe using our five senses are known as observable properties. Color, texture, hardness, and flexibility can all be assessed using our senses.

Question 4: What is the SI unit symbol for the amount of substance?


Since a mole is the SI unit for measuring the amount of a substance, it is abbreviated as ‘mol.’

Question 5: Is matter’s density one of its properties?


The mass-to-volume relationship is reflected by density, which is a physical property of matter. The denser a thing is, the more mass it possesses in a given amount of space. Since different substances have varying densities, so density measurements are important for distinguishing substances.

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