Unit 1 – The Solid State

The vast majority of solid substances like high temperature superconductors, bio compatible plastics, silicon chips, etc. are destined to play an ever expanding role in future development of science.

From our earlier studies, we know that liquids and gases are called fluids because of their ability to flow. The fluidity in both of these states is due to the fact that the molecules are free to move about. On the contrary, the constituent particles in solids have fixed positions and can only oscillate about their mean positions. This explains the rigidity in solids.

These properties depend upon the nature of constituent particles and the binding forces operating between them. The correlation between structure and properties helps in the discovery of new solid materials with desired properties. For example, carbon nanotubes are new materials that have potential to provide material that are tougher than steel, lighter than aluminium and have more conductive property than copper. Such materials may play an expanding role in future development of science and society.

Some other materials which are expected to play an important role in future are high temperature superconductors, magnetic materials, biodegradable polymers for packaging, biocompliant solids for surgical implants, etc.

Thus, the study of this state becomes more important in the present scenario. In this Unit, we shall discuss different possible arrangements of particles resulting in several types of structures and explore why different arrangements of structural units lend different properties to solids. We will also learn how these properties get modified due to the structural imperfections or by the presence of impurities in minute amounts.

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