Chemistry » Liquids and Solids » The Solid State of Matter

Summarizing the Solid State of Matter

Key Concepts and Summary

Some substances form crystalline solids consisting of particles in a very organized structure; others form amorphous (noncrystalline) solids with an internal structure that is not ordered. The main types of crystalline solids are ionic solids, metallic solids, covalent network solids, and molecular solids.

The properties of the different kinds of crystalline solids are due to the types of particles of which they consist, the arrangements of the particles, and the strengths of the attractions between them. Because their particles experience identical attractions, crystalline solids have distinct melting temperatures; the particles in amorphous solids experience a range of interactions, so they soften gradually and melt over a range of temperatures.

Some crystalline solids have defects in the definite repeating pattern of their particles. These defects (which include vacancies, atoms or ions not in the regular positions, and impurities) change physical properties such as electrical conductivity, which is exploited in the silicon crystals used to manufacture computer chips.


amorphous solid

(also, noncrystalline solid) solid in which the particles lack an ordered internal structure

covalent network solid

solid whose particles are held together by covalent bonds

crystalline solid

solid in which the particles are arranged in a definite repeating pattern

interstitial sites

spaces between the regular particle positions in any array of atoms or ions

ionic solid

solid composed of positive and negative ions held together by strong electrostatic attractions

metallic solid

solid composed of metal atoms

molecular solid

solid composed of neutral molecules held together by intermolecular forces of attraction


defect that occurs when a position that should contain an atom or ion is vacant

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