Examples of Physical Properties of Matter & Main Types

How many physical properties can you measure in the room you’re sitting in? There may be more than you think. Keep reading for a definition of physical properties, physical properties examples and an explanation about how physical and chemical properties differ.

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Physical Property Definition

All objects have both physical properties and chemical properties. But what is a physical property? A physical property is any property of matter or energy that can be measured. When it changes, the chemical composition of the object does not change. Chemical properties can only be identified during or after a chemical reaction.

Common Physical Properties

A physical property is an attribute of matter that can be observed or perceived. There are two main types of physical properties: extensive and intensive properties. Check out these examples of everyday physical properties from both categories.

Extensive Physical Properties

Extensive physical properties measure how much of an object there is in a sample size. When you increase or decrease the amount of matter, the extensive physical properties properties change. Examples of extensive physical properties include:

  • area - amount of a two dimensional surface in a plane
  • length - longest dimension of an object
  • mass - the amount of matter in an object
  • volume - space that a substance occupies
  • weight - how heavy an object is

Intensive Physical Properties

Intensive physical properties can be measured no matter how much of an object or substance there is. They are the same whether the sample size is very large or very small. Some examples of intensive physical properties include:

  • absorption of electromagnetism - the way a photon's energy is taken up by matter
  • absorption (physical) - absorption between two forms of matter
  • albedo - reflecting power of a surface
  • angular momentum - the amount of rotation of an object
  • brittleness - tendency of a material to break under stress
  • boiling point - temperature where a liquid forms vapor
  • capacitance - ability of an object to store an electrical charge
  • color - hue of an object as perceived by humans
  • concentration - amount of one substance in a mixture
  • density - mass per unit volume of a substance
  • dielectric constant - storage and dissipation of electric and magnetic energy
  • ductility - ability of a substance to be stretched into a wire
  • distribution - number of particles per unit volume in single-particle phase space
  • efficacy - capacity to produce an effect
  • elasticity - tendency of a material to return to its former shape
  • electric charge - positive or negative electric charge of matter
  • electrical conductivity - a material's ability to conduct electricity
  • emission - spectrum of frequencies of electromagnetic radiation emitted
  • flexibility - pliability
  • flow rate - amount of fluid which passes through a surface per unit time
  • fluidity - flows easily
  • freezing point - temperature where a liquid solidifies
  • frequency - number of repetitions in a given time frame
  • hardness - how resistant solid matter is to external force
  • inductance - when the current changes, the conductor creates voltage
  • intrinsic impedance - ratio of electric and magnetic fields in an electromagnetic wave
  • intensity - power transferred per unit area
  • irradiance - power of electromagnetic radiation per unit area
  • location - place where something exists
  • luminance - amount of light that passes through a given area
  • luminescence - emission of light not resulting from heat
  • luster - the way light interacts with the surface of a crystal, mineral or rock
  • malleability - ability to form a thin sheet by hammering or rolling a material
  • magnetic moment - force that the magnet exerts on electric currents and the torque that a magnetic field exerts on it
  • melting point - temperature where a solid changes to a liquid
  • momentum - product of the mass and velocity of an object
  • permeability - ability of a material to support a magnetic field
  • smell - scent or odor of a substance
  • solubility - ability of a substance to dissolve
  • specific heat - heat capacity per unit mass of a material
  • temperature - numerical measure of heat and cold
  • thermal conductivity - property of a material to conduct heat
  • velocity - rate of change in the position of an object
  • viscosity - resistance to deformation by stress
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Physical Properties Can Change

Now you have seen many examples of physical properties. Remember, what all they have in common is that they can be measured. These physical properties may change in everyday physical changes, so be sure to double check your measurements in these cases.