In Class XI you have learnt that matter can exist in three states namely, solid, liquid and gas. Under a given set of conditions of temperature and pressure, which of these would be the most stable state of a given substance depends upon the net effect of two opposing factors.
These are intermolecular forces which tend to keep the molecules (or atoms or ions) closer, and the thermal energy, which tends to keep them apart by making them move faster. At sufficiently low temperature, the thermal energy is low and intermolecular forces bring them so close that they cling to one another and occupy fixed positions.
These can still oscillate about their mean positions and the substance exists in solid state. The following are the characteristic properties of the solid state:
(i) They have definite mass, volume and shape.
(ii) Intermolecular distances are short.
(iii) Intermolecular forces are strong.
(iv) Their constituent particles (atoms, molecules or ions) have fixed positions and can only oscillate about their mean positions.
(v) They are incompressible and rigid.