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Chemical, Thermal and

Electric Properties of
Surface tension
Specific internal surface area
Corrosion resistance
Chemical Properties
Thermal Properties
Thermal conductivity
Thermal diffusity
Thermal expansion
Seebeck coefficient
Specific heat
Heat of vaporization
Heat of fusion
Autoignition temperature

Inversion temperature
Critical point
Glass transition
Eutectic point
Melting point
Boiling point
Triple point
Flash point
Curie point

Electrical Properties
Electrical conductivity

Dielectric constant
Dielectric strength
Piezoelectric constants

pH is a measure of the acidity or basicity of a solution.
Solutions with a pH less than 7 are said to be acidic and
solutions with a pH greater than 7 are said to
be basic or alkaline.
In a solution pH is the negative logarithm (base 10) of
the molar concentration of dissolved hydrogen ions (H+);
a low pH indicates a high concentration of hydrogen
ions, while a high pH indicates a low concentration.
Hygroscopy is the ability of a substance to attract and
hold water molecules from the
surrounding environment through either absorption or
adsorption with the adsorbing or absorbing material
becoming physically 'changed,' somewhat, increase in
volume, stickiness, or other physical characteristic
changes of the material as water molecules become
'suspended' between the material's molecules in the
Hydroscopic substances include sugar, honey,
glycerol, ethanol, methanol, diesel fuel, sulfuric
acid, methamphetamine, many salts (including table
salt), and a huge variety of other substances.
What is the difference between absorption and
Absorption happens when atoms pass through or enter a
bulky material like sponges.
Adsorption happens when the atoms settle or accumulate
on the surface of a material rather than literally entering
or diffusing into that same material.

Many engineering polymers are hygroscopic. These
include: nylon, ABS, polycarbonate, cellulose,
and Poly(methyl methacrylate). Other polymers, such
as polyethylene and polystyrene, do not normally adsorb
much moisture,
but are able to carry significant moisture on their surface
when exposed to liquid water.

Surface Tension
Surface tension is a property of the surface of a liquid that
allows it to resist an external force. This property is
caused by cohesion of like molecules, and is responsible
for many of the behaviors of liquids.
The cohesive forces among the liquid molecules are
responsible for this phenomenon of surface tension. In
the bulk of the liquid, each molecule is pulled equally in
every direction by neighboring liquid molecules, resulting
in a net force of zero. The molecules at the surface do
not have other molecules on all sides of them and
therefore are pulled inwards. This creates some internal
pressure and forces liquid surfaces to contract to the
minimal area.
Diagram shows, in cross-section, a needle floating on the
surface of water. Its weight, Fw, depresses the surface, and is
balanced by the surface tension forces on either side, Fs,
which are each parallel to the water's surface at the points
where it contacts the needle. Notice that the horizontal
components of the two Fs arrows point in opposite directions,
so they cancel each other, but the vertical components point in
the same direction and therefore add up to balance Fw.
Specific Surface Area
Specific surface area is a material property of solids which
measures the total surface area per unit of mass, solid or
bulk volume, or cross-sectional area
It is a derived scientific value that can be used to determine
the type and properties of a material (e.g. soil). It is
defined either by surface area divided by mass (with
units of m/kg), or surface area divided by the volume
(units of m/m or m
It has a particular importance in case of adsorption,
heterogeneous catalysis, and reactions on surfaces.
Reactivity then refers to the rate at which
a chemical substance tends to undergo
a chemical reaction in time.
In pure compounds, reactivity is regulated by the
physical properties of the sample. For instance,
grinding a sample to a higher specific surface
area increases its reactivity. In impure
compounds, the reactivity is also affected by the
inclusion of contaminants.
In crystalline compounds, the crystalline form can
also affect reactivity. However in all cases,
reactivity is primarily due to the sub-atomic
properties of the compound.
What do you mean by reactive?
Although it is commonplace to make statements
that substance 'X is reactive', all substances
react with some reagents and not others. For
example, in making the statement that 'sodium
metal is reactive', we are alluding to the fact that
sodium reacts with many common reagents
(including pure oxygen, chlorine, hydrochloric
acid, water) and/or that it reacts rapidly with
such materials at either room temperature or
using a bunsen flame.
Corrosion Resistance
Some metals are more intrinsically resistant to corrosion than
others, either due to the fundamental nature of the
electrochemical processes involved or due to the details of
how reaction products form.
The materials most resistant to corrosion are those for which
corrosion is thermodynamically unfavorable. Any corrosion
products of gold or platinum tend to decompose
spontaneously into pure metal, which is why these
elements can be found in metallic form on Earth, and is a
large part of their intrinsic value. More common "base"
metals can only be protected by more temporary means.
Some metals have naturally slow reaction kinetics, even
though their corrosion is thermodynamically favorable.
These include such metals as zinc, magnesium,
and cadmium. While corrosion of these metals is
continuous and ongoing, it happens at an acceptably slow
Methods of protection from corrosion

Applied coatings
Plating, painting, and the application of enamel are the most
common anti-corrosion treatments. They work by providing a
barrier of corrosion-resistant material between the damaging
environment and the (often cheaper, tougher, and/or easier-to-
process) structural material.
Reactive coatings
If the environment is controlled (especially in recirculating
systems), corrosion inhibitors can often be added to it. These
form an electrically insulating and/or chemically impermeable
coating on exposed metal surfaces, to suppress electrochemical
Cathodic protection
Cathodic protection (CP) is a technique to control the corrosion
of a metal surface by making that surface the cathode of
an electrochemical cell.
Anodic protection
Anodic protection impresses anodic current on the structure to
be protected (opposite to the cathodic protection).
Thermal Conductivity
Thermal conductivity, k, is the property of a material
reflecting its ability to conduct heat.
Thermal conductivity is measured in watts per kelvin per
metre (W/Km). Multiplied by a temperature difference (in
kelvins, K) and an area (in square metres, m2), and
divided by a thickness (in metres, m), the thermal
conductivity predicts the rate of energy loss (in watts, W)
through a piece of material.
The reciprocal of thermal conductivity is thermal resistivity,
usually measured in kelvin-metres per watt (KmW1).
When dealing with a known amount of material,
its thermal conductance and the reciprocal
property, thermal resistance, can be described.
Thermal Diffusity
Thermal diffusivity is the thermal conductivity divided by
the volumetric heat capacity. It has the SI unit of m/s.

k : thermal conductivity (SI units: W/(mK))
: density (kg/m)
cp : specific heat capacity (J/(kgK))
Substances with high thermal diffusivity rapidly adjust their
temperature to that of their surroundings, because they
conduct heat quickly in comparison to their volumetric heat
capacity or 'thermal bulk'.
Thermal Expansion
Thermal expansion is the tendency of matter to change
in volume in response to a change in temperature. All
materials have this tendency.
When a substance is heated, its particles begin moving and
become active thus maintaining a greater average
The change in the linear and volumetric dimension can be
estimated to be:

= coefficient of linear expansion
L = initial length
T= change in temperature
L=change in length

= coefficient of volume expansion
V = initial volume
T= change in temperature
V=change in volume
Seebeck Coefficient
Seebeck coefficient (or thermopower) of a material is a
measure of the magnitude of an induced thermoelectric
voltage in response to a temperature difference across
that material. The thermopower has units
of volts per kelvin (V/K), although it is more often given
in microvolts per kelvin (V/K).
The Seebeck effect is the conversion of temperature
differences directly into electricity.
S = Seebeck coefficient
T = Temperature difference
V = Thermoelectric voltage seen at the
The emissivity of a material (usually written or e) is the
relative ability of its surface to emit energy by radiation. It
is the ratio of energy radiated by a particular material to
energy radiated by a black body at the same
temperature. A true black body would have an = 1
while any real object would have < 1. Emissivity is
a dimensionless quantity.
In general, the duller and blacker a material is, the closer
its emissivity is to 1. The more reflective a material is,
the lower its emissivity.
Emissivity depends on factors such as temperature,
emission angle, and wavelength.
Specific Heat
Heat capacity (usually denoted by a capital C, often with
subscripts) is the measurable physical quantity that
characterizes the amount of heat required to change a
body's temperature by a given amount. In
the International System of Units, heat capacity is
expressed in units of joules per kelvin.

Derived quantities that specify heat capacity as
an intensive property, independent of the size of a
sample, are the:
molar heat capacity, which is the heat capacity
per mole of a pure substance (J/mol-K),
specific heat capacity, often called simply specific heat,
which is the heat capacity per unit mass of a material
Heat of vaporization
The heat of vaporization, also known as the enthalpy of
vaporization or heat of evaporation, is the energy
required to transform a given quantity of a substance into
a gas at a given pressure (often atmospheric pressure).
It is often measured at the normal boiling point of a
substance; although tabulated values are usually
corrected to 298 K, the correction is often smaller than
the uncertainty in the measured value.
Values are usually quoted in J/mol or kJ/mol (molar
enthalpy of vaporization), although kJ/kg or J/g (specific
heat of vaporization), and units like kcal/mol, cal/g
and Btu/lb are sometimes used, among others.
Heat of Fusion
The enthalpy of fusion, also known as the heat of
fusion or specific melting heat, is the change in
enthalpy resulting from the addition or removal
of heat from 1 mole of a substance to change its state
from a solid to a liquid (melting) or the reverse processes
of freezing. It is also called the latent heat of fusion, and
the temperature at which it occurs is called the melting

The units of heat of fusion are usually expressed as:
kilojoules per mole (the SI unit)
calories per gram (old metric units now little used, except
for a different, larger calorie used in nutritional contexts)
British thermal unit per pound or Btu per pound-mole
A pyrophoric substance will ignite spontaneously in air.
Examples are iron sulfide and many
reactive metals including uranium, when powdered or
sliced thinly. Pyrophoric materials are often water
reactive as well and will ignite when they contact water
or humid air. They can be handled safely in atmospheres
of argon or (with a few exceptions) nitrogen.

The creation of sparks from metals is based on the
pyrophoricity of small metal particles. This can be useful,
including: the sparking mechanisms in lighters and
various toys, using ferrocerium; starting fires without
matches, using a firesteel; the flintlock mechanism in
firearms; and spark testing ferrous metals.
Flammability is defined as how easily something will burn
or ignite, causing fire or combustion. The degree of
difficulty required to cause the combustion of a
substance is quantified through fire testing.
The ratings achieved are used in building codes, insurance
requirements, fire codes and other regulations governing
the use of building materials as well as the storage and
handling of highly flammable substances inside and
outside of structures and in surface and air
0 Materials that will not burn.
1 Materials that must be preheated before they will ignite.
2 Materials that must be moderately heated or exposed to relatively high
ambient temperatures before they will ignite.
3 Liquids and solids that can ignite under almost all temperature conditions.
4 Materials which will rapidly vaporize at atmospheric pressure and normal
temperatures, or are readily dispersed in air and which burn readily.

Flammable vs Inflammable
The word inflammable came from Latin inflammre = to set
fire to, where the prefix 'in-' means in as in inside, rather
than not as in invisible and ineligible. Nonetheless,
inflammable is often erroneously thought to mean non-
flammable. To avoid this safety hazard, flammable, despite
not being the proper Latin-derived term, is now commonly
used on warning labels when referring to physical
Autoignition Temperature
The autoignition temperature or kindling point of a
substance is the lowest temperature at which it
will spontaneously ignite in a normal atmosphere without
an external source of ignition, such as a flame or spark.
This temperature is required to supply the activation
energy needed for combustion.

Autoignition temperature of selected substances:
Diesel: 210 C (410 F)
Gasoline (Petrol): 246280 C (475536 F)
Butane: 405 C (761 F)
Paper: 218-246C (424-474F)
Magnesium: 473 C (883 F)
Hydrogen: 536 C (997 F)
Inversion Temperature
The inversion temperature is the critical temperature below
which a non-ideal gas (all gases in reality) that is
expanded at constant enthalpy will experience a
temperature decrease, and above which will experience
a temperature increase. This temperature change is
known as the Joule-Thomson effect, and is exploited in
the liquefaction of gases.
Critical Point
A critical point, also called a critical state, specifies the
conditions (temperature, pressure and sometimes
composition) at which a phase boundary ceases to exist.
For instance, as the vapor-liquid critical point is
approached, the properties of the gas and liquid phases
approach one another, resulting in only one phase at the
critical point: a homogeneous supercritical fluid. The heat
of vaporization is zero at and beyond this critical point,
so there is no distinction between the two phases.

In water, the critical point occurs at around 647 K (374 C or 705 F)
and 22.064 MPa(3200 PSIA or 218 atm)
The vapor-liquid critical point in a pressure-temperature phase
diagram is at the high-temperature extreme of the liquid-gas phase
boundary. The dotted green line gives the anomalous behavior of
Glass transition Temperature
The liquid-glass transition (or glass transition for short)
is the reversible transition in amorphous materials (or in
amorphous regions within semi-crystalline materials)
from a hard and relatively brittle state into a molten
or rubber-like state.

The liquid-glass transition is an atypical phase transition in
that it is not connected with a discontinuous change in
structure, and in that it does not have a sharp transition
temperature. There is rather a glass transformation
range that extends over several Kelvin or more.
Eutectic Temperature
A eutectic system is a mixture of chemical
compounds or elements that has a
single chemical composition that solidifies at a
lower temperature than any other composition.
This composition is known as the eutectic
composition and the temperature is known as
the eutectic temperature.
Not all binary alloys have a eutectic point; for
example, in the silver-gold system the melt
temperature (liquidus) and freeze temperature
(solidus) both increase monotonically as the mix
changes from pure silver to pure gold.
Melting Point
The melting point of a solid is the temperature at which
the vapor pressure of the solid and the liquid are equal.
At the melting point the solid and liquid phase exist in
equilibrium. When considered as the temperature of the
reverse change from liquid to solid, it is referred to as the
freezing point or crystallization point.
Because of the ability of some substances to supercool, the
freezing point is not considered to be a characteristic
property of a substance. When the "characteristic
freezing point" of a substance is determined, in fact the
actual methodology is almost always "the principle of
observing the disappearance rather than the formation of
ice", that is, the melting point.
Boiling point
The boiling point of an element or a substance is the
temperature at which the vapor pressure of the liquid
equals the environmental pressure surrounding the
The boiling point of liquids varies with and depends upon
the surrounding environmental pressure (which tends to
vary with elevation).
The normal boiling point (also called the atmospheric
boiling point or the atmospheric pressure boiling
point) of a liquid is the special case in which the vapor
pressure of the liquid equals the defined atmospheric
pressure at sea level, 1 atmosphere. Saturation
temperature means boiling point.
The saturation temperature is the temperature for a
corresponding saturation pressure at which a liquid boils
into its vapor phase. The liquid can be said to be
saturated with thermal energy.

Melting Points, Boiling Points, Heat of Fusion and Heat of
Vaporization of Common Substances
Triple Point
The triple point of a substance is
the temperature and pressure at which
three phases (for example, gas, liquid, and solid)
of that substance coexist in thermodynamic
The single combination of pressure and
temperature at which liquid water, solid ice,
and water vapor can coexist in a stable
equilibrium occurs at exactly 273.16 K (0.01 C)
and a partial vapor pressure of 611.73 pascals
(ca. 6.1173 millibars, 0.0060373057 atm).
Flash Point
The flash point of a volatile liquid is the
lowest temperature at which it can vaporize to form an
ignitable mixture in air. Measuring a liquid's flash point
requires an ignition source. At the flash point, the vapor
may cease to burn when the source of ignition is
The flash point is not to be confused with the autoignition
temperature, which does not require an ignition source.
The flash point is often used as a descriptive characteristic
of liquid fuel, and it is also used to help characterize the
fire hazards of liquids.
Curie Point
the Curie temperature (Tc), or Curie point, is
the temperature at which a ferromagnetic or a
ferrimagnetic material
becomes paramagnetic on heating; the effect is
reversible. An iron magnet will lose
its magnetism if heated above the Curie
Below the Curie temperature, the ferromagnet is
ordered and above it, disordered. The saturation
magnetization goes to zero at the Curie
Electrical Conductivity
Electrical conductivity is a measure of a material's ability
to conduct an electric current. When an electrical
potential difference is placed across a conductor, its
movable charges flow, giving rise to an electric current.
The conductivity is defined as the ratio of the current
density J to the magnitude of the electric (vector) field E:

Conductivity is the reciprocal (inverse) of
electrical resistivity, , and has the SI units
of siemens per metre (Sm-1) and CGSE
units of inverse second (s
Permittivity is the measure of how much resistance is
encountered when forming an electric field in a medium.
In other words, permittivity is a measure of how
an electric field affects, and is affected by
a dielectric medium.
In SI units, permittivity is measured in farads per meter
Permittivity is determined by the ability of a material
to polarize in response to the field, and thereby reduce
the total electric field inside the material. Thus,
permittivity relates to a material's ability to transmit (or
"permit") an electric field.

Dielectrics materials possessing high electrical resistivites.

Dielectric Constant
The relative permittivity of a material for a frequency of zero
is known as its static relative permittivity or as
its dielectric constant.
The relative permittivity of a material under given
conditions reflects the extent to which it
concentrates electrostatic lines of flux. It is the ratio of
the amount of electrical energy stored in a material by an
applied voltage, relative to that stored in a vacuum;
similarly, it is the ratio of the capacitance of a capacitor
using that material as a dielectric, compared to a similar
capacitor which has a vacuum as its dielectric.
Dielectric strength
The dielectric strength of an insulating material, the
maximum electric field strength that it can withstand
intrinsically without breaking down, i.e., without
experiencing failure of its insulating properties.
Factors affecting dielectric strength
it increases with the increase in thickness of the
specimen. (Directly proportional)
it decreases with the increase in operating temperature.
(Inversely proportional)
it decreases with the increase in frequency. (Inversely
it decreases with the increase in humidity. (Inversely
Piezoelectric Constant
Piezoelectric constant is the measure of charge which
accumulates in certain solid materials (notably crystals,
certain ceramics, and biological matter such as
bone, DNA and various proteins) in response to applied
mechanical strain. The word piezoelectricity means
electricity resulting from pressure.

Direct piezoelectricity of some substances like quartz, as
mentioned above, can generate potential differences of
thousands of volts.
Applications of Piezoelectricity
The best-known application is the electric cigarette lighter:
pressing the button causes a spring-loaded hammer to hit
a piezoelectric crystal, producing a sufficiently high voltage
electric current that flows across a small spark gap, thus
heating and igniting the gas.
Detection of pressure variations in the form of sound is the
most common sensor application, e.g.
piezoelectric microphones (sound waves bend the
piezoelectric material, creating a changing voltage) and
piezoelectric pickups for Acoustic-electric guitars.
Loudspeakers: Voltage is converted to mechanical
movement of a piezoelectric polymer film.
Inkjet printers: On many inkjet printers, piezoelectric
crystals are used to drive the ejection of ink from the inkjet
print head towards the paper.