Most of the observable characteristics of chemical systems with which we are familiar represent bulk properties of matter, i.e., the properties associated with a collection of a large number of atoms, ions or molecules. For example, an individual molecule of a liquid does not boil but the bulk boils. Collection of water molecules have wetting properties; individual molecules do not wet. Water can exist as ice, which is a solid; it can exist as liquid; or it can exist in the gaseous state as water vapour or steam. Physical properties of ice, water and steam are very different. In all the three states of water chemical composition of water remains the same i.e., H2O. Characteristics of the three states of water depend on the energies of molecules and on the manner in which water molecules aggregate. Same is true for other substances also.
Chemical properties of a substance do not change with the change of its physical state; but rate of chemical reactions do depend upon the physical state. Many times in calculations while dealing with data of experiments we require knowledge of the state of matter. Therefore, it becomes necessary for a chemist to know the physical laws which govern the behaviour of matter in different states. In this unit, we will learn more about these three physical states of matter particularly liquid and gaseous states. To begin with, it is necessary to understand the nature of intermolecular forces, molecular interactions and effect of thermal energy on the motion of particles because a balance between these determines the state of a substance.