List of states of matter

Matter organizes into various phases or states of matter depending on its constituents and external factors like pressure and temperature. In common temperatures and pressures, atoms form the three classical states of matter: solid, liquid and gas. Complex molecules can also form various mesophases such as liquid crystals, which are intermediate between the liquid and solid phases. At high temperatures or strong electromagnetic fields atoms become ionized, forming plasma.

At low temperatures, the electrons of solid materials can also organize into various electronic phases of matter, such as the superconducting state, which is characterized by vanishing resistivity. Magnetic states such as ferromagnetism and antiferromagnetism can also be regarded as phases of matter in which the electronic and nuclear spins organize into different patterns. Such states of matter are studied in condensed matter physics.

In extreme conditions found in some stars and in the early universe, atoms break into their constituents and matter exists as some form of degenerate matter or quark matter. Such states of matter are studied in high-energy physics.

In the 20th century, increased understanding of the properties of matter resulted in the identification of many states of matter. This list includes some notable examples.

Low-energy states of matter


Classical states

  • Solid: A solid holds a definite shape and volume without the need of a container. The particles are held very close to each other.
    • Amorphous solid: A solid in which there is no far-range order of the positions of the atoms.
    • Crystalline solid: A solid in which atoms, molecules, or ions are packed in regular order.
    • Quasicrystal: A solid in which the positions of the atoms have long-range order, but this is not in a repeating pattern.
    • Different structural phases of polymorphic materials are considered to be different states of matter in the Landau theory. For an example, see Ice § Phases.
  • Liquid: A mostly non-compressible fluid. Able to conform to the shape of its container but retains a (nearly) constant volume independent of pressure.
  • Gas: A compressible fluid. Not only will a gas take the shape of its container but it will also expand to fill the container.
  • Mesomorphic states: States of matter intermediate between solid and liquid.
    • Plastic crystal: A molecular solid with long-range positional order but with constituent molecules retaining rotational freedom.
    • Liquid crystal: Properties intermediate between liquids and crystals. Generally, able to flow like a liquid but exhibiting long-range orientational order.
  • Supercritical fluid: A fluid with properties intermediate of liquids and gasses. At sufficiently high temperatures and pressures, the distinction between liquid and gas disappears, resulting in supercritical fluids.
  • Plasma: Unlike gases, which are composed of neutral atoms, plasma contains a significant number of free electrons and ionized atoms. It may self-generate magnetic fields and electric currents and responds strongly and collectively to electromagnetic forces.[1]

Condensates, superfluids and superconductors


Magnetic states

  • Ferromagnetism: A state of matter with spontaneous magnetization.
  • Antiferromagnetism: A state of matter in which the neighboring spin are antiparallel with each other, and there is no net magnetization.
  • Ferrimagnetism: A state in which local moments partially cancel.
  • Altermagnetism: A state with zero net magnetization and spin-split electronic bands.
  • Spin-density wave: An ordered state in which spin density is periodically modulated.
  • Helimagnetism: A state with spatially rotating magnetic order.
  • Spin glass: A magnetic state characterized by randomness.
  • Quantum spin liquid: A disordered state in a system of interacting quantum spins which preserves its disorder to very low temperatures, unlike other disordered states.

Electronically ordered states


Topological states of matter


Classification by conductivity


Metallic and insulating states of materials can be considered as different quantum phases of matter connected by a metal-insulator transition. Materials can be classified by the structure of their Fermi surface and zero-temperature dc conductivity as follows:[4]

Miscellaneous states

  • Time crystals: A state of matter where an object can have movement even at its lowest energy state.
  • Hidden states of matter: Phases that are unattainable or do not exist in thermal equilibrium, but can be induced e.g. by photoexcitation.
  • Chain-melted state: Metals, such as potassium, at high temperature and pressure, present properties of both a solid and liquid.
  • Wigner crystal: a crystalline phase of low-density electrons.
  • Hexatic state, a state of matter that is between the solid and the isotropic liquid phases in two dimensional systems of particles.
  • Ferroics

High energy states



  1. ^ A. Pickover, Clifford (2011). "Plasma". The Physics Book. Sterling. pp. 248–249. ISBN 978-1-4027-7861-2.
  2. ^ Armitage, N. P.; Mele, E. J.; Vishwanath, Ashvin (2018-01-22). "Weyl and Dirac semimetals in three-dimensional solids". Reviews of Modern Physics. 90 (1): 015001. arXiv:1705.01111. Bibcode:2018RvMP...90a5001A. doi:10.1103/RevModPhys.90.015001.
  3. ^ Sato, Masatoshi; Ando, Yoichi (2017-07-01). "Topological superconductors: a review". Reports on Progress in Physics. 80 (7): 076501. arXiv:1608.03395. Bibcode:2017RPPh...80g6501S. doi:10.1088/1361-6633/aa6ac7. ISSN 0034-4885. PMID 28367833. S2CID 3900155.
  4. ^ Imada, Masatoshi; Fujimori, Atsushi; Tokura, Yoshinori (1998-10-01). "Metal-insulator transitions". Reviews of Modern Physics. 70 (4): 1039–1263. Bibcode:1998RvMP...70.1039I. doi:10.1103/RevModPhys.70.1039.