Matter is made up of small particles called atoms. Atoms can exist on their own or together as molecules. Atoms are very small and around 100,000,000 of them side by side would measure 1 centimetre.

Density describes how closely packed the particles are in a solid, liquid or gas.

All matter contains particles. The difference between the different states of matter is how the particles are arranged:

- in a solid ‐ particles are tightly packed in a regular structure
- in a liquid ‐ particles are tightly packed but free to move past each other
- in a gas ‐ particles are spread out and move randomly

There is little difference between the density of a liquid and its corresponding solid (eg water and ice). This is because the particles are tightly packed in both states. The same number of particles are spread further apart than in the liquid or solid states. The same mass takes up a bigger volume - this means the gas is less dense.

Density also depends on the material. A piece of iron with the same dimensions as a piece of aluminium will be heavier because the atoms are more closely packed, and because an individual iron atom is heavier than an aluminium atom.

Scientists can measure how tightly packed the particles are by measuring the mass of a certain volume of the material, for example, one cubic centimetre.

Material | Density (g/cm³) |
---|---|

Iron | 7.8 |

Ice | 0.98 |

Water | 1 |

Air | 0.00129 |

This is when:

- density (
*ρ*) is measured in kilograms per cubic metre (kg/m^{3}) - mass (
*m*) is measured in kilograms (kg) - volume (
*V*) is measured in cubic metres (m^{3})

What is the density of a material if 0.45 cubic metres (m^{3} ) of it has a mass of 0.2 kg?

- Question
What is the density of a material if 4 cubic metres (m

^{3}) of it has a mass of 2,200 kg?

The standard unit for mass is kilograms (kg) and for volume is cubic metres (m^{3}). However, in many laboratory situations it is common to measure the mass in grams (g) and volume in cubic centimetres (cm^{3}).

Calculating density using grams and cubic centimetres would give a density unit of grams per cubic centimetre (g/cm³).

1 g/cm^{3} is equal to 1,000 kg/m^{3}

- To convert from kg/m
^{3}to g/cm^{3}, divide by 1,000. - To convert from g/cm
^{3}to kg/m^{3}, multiply by 1,000.

Aluminium has a density of 2.7 g/cm^{3}, or 2,700 kg/m^{3}. Lead has a density 11.6 g/cm^{3}, or 11,600 kg/m^{3}.

Iron has a density of 7.9 g/cm^{3} what is this in kg/m^{3} ?

7.9 multiplied by 1,000 gives 7,900 kg/m^{3}.

- Question
What is the density of an object in kg/m

^{3}if it is 6.531 g/cm^{3}?6.531 multiplied by 1,000 would give 6,531 kg/m

^{3}.