Amorphous Definition in Physics and Chemistry

Understand What Amorphous Means in Science

Unlike a crystalline solid, an amorphous solid lacks ordered internal structure.
Unlike a crystalline solid, an amorphous solid lacks ordered internal structure. Mina De La O / Getty Images

In physics and chemistry, amorphous is a term used to describe a solid which does not exhibit crystalline structure. While there may be local ordering of the atoms or molecules in an amorphous solid, no long-term ordering is present. In older texts, the words "glass" and "glassy" were synonymous with amorphous. However, now glass is considered to be one type of amorphous solid.

Examples of amorphous solids include window glass, polystyrene, and carbon black.

Many polymers, gels, and thin films exhibit amorphous structure.

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Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. "Amorphous Definition in Physics and Chemistry." ThoughtCo, Aug. 8, 2017, thoughtco.com/definition-of-amorphous-604365. Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. (2017, August 8). Amorphous Definition in Physics and Chemistry. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/definition-of-amorphous-604365 Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. "Amorphous Definition in Physics and Chemistry." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/definition-of-amorphous-604365 (accessed December 12, 2017).