List of Phase Changes Between States of Matter

This Diagram Shows Phase Changes Between Solid, Liquid, Gas, and Plasma States of Matter.

Flanker / Penubag / Public Domain

Matter undergoes phase changes or phase transitions from one state of matter to another. Below is a complete list of the names of these phase changes. The most commonly known phase changes are those six between solids, liquids, and gasses. However, plasma also is a state of matter, so a complete list requires all eight total phase changes.

Why Do Phase Changes Occur?

Phase changes typically occur when the temperature or pressure of a system is altered. When temperature or pressure increases, molecules interact more with each other. When pressure increases or temperature decreases, it's easier for atoms and molecules to settle into a more rigid structure. When pressure is released, it's easier for particles to move away from each other.

For example, at normal atmospheric pressure, ice melts as the temperature increases. If you held the temperature steady but lowered the pressure, eventually you would reach a point where the ice would undergo sublimation directly to water vapor.

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Melting (Solid → Liquid)

Blocks of melting ice

Paul Taylor / Getty Images 

This example shows an ice cube melting into water. Melting is the process by which a substance changes from the solid phase to the liquid phase.

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Freezing (Liquid → Solid)

Directly Above Shot Of Ice Cream Maker
Robert Kneschke / EyeEm / Getty Images

This example shows the freezing of sweetened cream into ice cream. Freezing is the process through which a substance changes from a liquid to a solid. All liquids except helium undergo freezing when the temperature becomes sufficiently cold.

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Vaporization (Liquid → Gas)


Jeremy Hudson / Getty Images 

This image shows the vaporization of alcohol into its vapor. Vaporization, or evaporation, is the process by which molecules undergo a spontaneous transition from a liquid phase to a gas phase.

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Condensation (Gas → Liquid)

Dew drops on plants
Sirintra Pumsopa / Getty Images

This photo displays the process of condensation of water vapor into dew drops. Condensation, the opposite of evaporation, is the change in the state of matter from the gas phase to the liquid phase.

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Deposition (Gas → Solid)

Woman looking in mirror

Olga Batishcheva / Getty Images 

This image shows the deposition of silver vapor in a vacuum chamber onto a surface to make a solid layer for a mirror. Deposition is the settling of particles or sediment onto a surface. The particles may originate from a vapor, solution, suspension, or mixture. Deposition also refers to the phase change from gas to solid.

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Sublimation (Solid → Gas)

Sublimation of dry ice
RBOZUK / Getty Images

This example shows the sublimation of dry ice (solid carbon dioxide) into carbon dioxide gas. Sublimation is the transition from a solid phase to a gas phase without passing through an intermediate liquid phase. Another example is when ice directly transitions into water vapor on a cold, windy winter day.

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Ionization (Gas → Plasma)

Plasma ball
Oatpixels / Getty Images

This image captures the ionization of particles in the upper atmosphere to form the aurora. Ionization may be observed inside a plasma ball novelty toy. Ionization energy is the energy required to remove an electron from a gaseous atom or ion.

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Recombination (Plasma → Gas)

Neon open sign
artpartner-images / Getty Images

Turning off the power to a neon light allows the ionized particles to return to the gas phase called recombination, the combining of charges or transfer of electrons in a gas that results in the neutralization of ions, explains AskDefine.

Phase Changes of States of Matter

Another way to list phase changes is by states of matter:

Solids: Solids can melt into liquids or sublime into gases. Solids form by deposition from gases or freezing of liquids.

Liquids: Liquids can vaporize into gases or freeze into solids. Liquids form by condensation of gases and melting of solids.

Gases: Gases can ionize into plasma, condense into liquids, or undergo deposition into solids. Gases form from the sublimation of solids, vaporization of liquids, and recombination of plasma.

Plasma: Plasma can recombine to form a gas. Plasma most often forms from ionization of a gas, although if sufficient energy and enough space are available, it's presumably possible for a liquid or solid to ionize directly into a gas.

Phase changes aren't always clear when observing a situation. For example, if you view the sublimation of dry ice into carbon dioxide gas, the white vapor that is observed is mostly water that is condensing from water vapor in the air into fog droplets.

Multiple phase changes can occur at once. For example, frozen nitrogen will form both the liquid phase and the vapor phase when exposed to normal temperature and pressure.

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Your Citation
Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. "List of Phase Changes Between States of Matter." ThoughtCo, Apr. 5, 2023, Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. (2023, April 5). List of Phase Changes Between States of Matter. Retrieved from Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. "List of Phase Changes Between States of Matter." ThoughtCo. (accessed May 31, 2023).