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Interesting fact

It is a known fact that well-insulated buildings need less energy for heating than do buildings that have no insulation. Two building materials that are being used more and more worldwide, are mineral wool and polystyrene . Mineral wool is a good insulator because it holds air still in the matrix of the wool so that heat is not lost. Since air is a poor conductor and a good insulator, this helps to keep energy within the building. Polystyrene is also a good insulator and is able to keep cool things cool and hot things hot. It has the added advantage of being resistant to moisture, mould and mildew.

Remember that concepts such as conductivity and insulation are not only relevant in the building, industrial and home environments. Think for example of the layer of blubber or fat that is found in some animals. In very cold environments, fat and blubber not only provide protection, but also act as an insulator to help the animal keep its body temperature at the right level. This is known as thermoregulation .

Magnetic and non-magnetic materials

We have now looked at a number of ways in which matter can be grouped, such as into metals, semi-metals and non-metals; electrical conductors and insulators, and thermal conductors and insulators. One way in which we can further group metals, is to divide them into those that are magnetic and those that are non-magnetic.


Magnetism is one of the phenomena by which materials exert attractive or repulsive forces on other materials.

A metal is said to be ferromagnetic if it can be magnetised (i.e. made into a magnet). If you hold a magnet very close to a metal object, it may happen that its own electrical field will be induced and the object becomes magnetic. Some metals keep their magnetism for longer than others. Look at iron and steel for example. Iron loses its magnetism quite quickly if it is taken away from the magnet. Steel on the other hand will stay magnetic for a longer time. Steel is often used to make permanent magnets that can be used for a variety of purposes.

Magnets are used to sort the metals in a scrap yard, in compasses to find direction, in the magnetic strips of video tapes and ATM cards where information must be stored, in computers and TV's, as well as in generators and electric motors.

Investigation : magnetism

You can test whether an object is magnetic or not by holding another magnet close to it. If the object is attracted to the magnet, then it too is magnetic.

Find some objects in your classroom or your home and test whether they are magnetic or not. Then complete the table below:

Object Magnetic or non-magnetic

Group discussion : properties of materials

In groups of 4-5, discuss how our knowledge of the properties of materials has allowed society to:

  • develop advanced computer technology
  • provide homes with electricity
  • find ways to conserve energy

The following presentation provides a summary of the classification of matter.


  • All the objects and substances that we see in the world are made of matter .
  • This matter can be classified according to whether it is a mixture or a pure substance .
  • A mixture is a combination of one or more substances that are not chemically bonded to each other. Examples of mixtures are air (a mixture of different gases) and blood (a mixture of cells, platelets and plasma).
  • The main characteristics of mixtures are that the substances that make them up are not in a fixed ratio, they keep their individual properties and they can be separated from each other using mechanical means.
  • A heterogeneous mixture is non-uniform and the different parts of the mixture can be seen. An example would be a mixture of sand and water.
  • A homogeneous mixture is uniform, and the different components of the mixture can't be seen. An example would be a salt solution. A salt solution is a mixture of salt and water. The salt dissolves in the water, meaning that you can't see the individual salt particles. They are interspersed between the water molecules. Another example is a metal alloy such as steel.
  • Mixtures can be separated using a number of methods such as filtration, heating, evaporation, centrifugation and dialysis.
  • Pure substances can be further divided into elements and compounds .
  • An element is a substance that can't be broken down into simpler substances through chemical means.
  • All the elements are recorded in the Periodic Table of the Elements . Each element has its own chemical symbol. Examples are iron ( Fe ), sulphur ( S ), calcium ( Ca ), magnesium ( Mg ) and fluorine ( F ).
  • A compound is a substance that is made up of two or more elements that are chemically bonded to each other in a fixed ratio. Examples of compounds are sodium chloride ( NaCl ), iron sulphide ( FeS ), calcium carbonate ( CaCO 3 ) and water ( H 2 O ).
  • When naming compounds and writing their chemical formula , it is important to know the elements that are in the compound, how many atoms of each of these elements will combine in the compound and where the elements are in the Periodic Table. A number of rules can then be followed to name the compound.
  • Another way of classifying matter is into metals (e.g. iron, gold, copper), semi-metals (e.g. silicon and germanium) and non-metals (e.g. sulphur, phosphorus and nitrogen).
  • Metals are good electrical and thermal conductors, they have a shiny lustre, they are malleable and ductile, and they have a high melting point. These properties make metals very useful in electrical wires, cooking utensils, jewellery and many other applications.
  • A further way of classifying matter is into electrical conductors , semi-conductors and insulators .
  • An electrical conductor allows an electrical current to pass through it. Most metals are good electrical conductors.
  • An electrical insulator is not able to carry an electrical current. Examples are plastic, wood, cotton material and ceramic.
  • Materials may also be classified as thermal conductors or thermal insulators depending on whether or not they are able to conduct heat.
  • Materials may also be either magnetic or non-magnetic .


  1. For each of the following multiple choice questions, choose one correct answer from the list provided.
    1. Which of the following can be classified as a mixture:
      1. sugar
      2. table salt
      3. air
      4. iron
    2. An element can be defined as:
      1. A substance that cannot be separated into two or more substances by ordinary chemical (or physical) means
      2. A substance with constant composition
      3. A substance that contains two or more substances, in definite proportion by weight
      4. A uniform substance
  2. Classify each of the following substances as an element , a compound , a solution (homogeneous mixture), or a heterogeneous mixture : salt, pure water, soil, salt water, pure air, carbon dioxide, gold and bronze.
  3. Look at the table below. In the first column (A) is a list of substances. In the second column (B) is a description of the group that each of these substances belongs in. Match up the substance in Column A with the description in Column B.
    Column A Column B
    iron a compound containing 2 elements
    H 2 S a heterogeneous mixture
    sugar solution a metal alloy
    sand and stones an element
    steel a homogeneous mixture
  4. You are given a test tube that contains a mixture of iron filings and sulphur. You are asked to weigh the amount of iron in the sample.
    1. Suggest one method that you could use to separate the iron filings from the sulphur.
    2. What property of metals allows you to do this?
  5. Given the following descriptions, write the chemical formula for each of the following substances:
    1. silver metal
    2. a compound that contains only potassium and bromine
    3. a gas that contains the elements carbon and oxygen in a ratio of 1:2
  6. Give the names of each of the following compounds:
    1. NaBr
    2. BaSO 4
    3. SO 2
  7. For each of the following materials, say what properties of the material make it important in carrying out its particular function.
    1. tar on roads
    2. iron burglar bars
    3. plastic furniture
    4. metal jewellery
    5. clay for building
    6. cotton clothing

Questions & Answers

how can chip be made from sand
Eke Reply
is this allso about nanoscale material
are nano particles real
Missy Reply
Hello, if I study Physics teacher in bachelor, can I study Nanotechnology in master?
Lale Reply
no can't
where is the latest information on a no technology how can I find it
where we get a research paper on Nano chemistry....?
Maira Reply
nanopartical of organic/inorganic / physical chemistry , pdf / thesis / review
what are the products of Nano chemistry?
Maira Reply
There are lots of products of nano chemistry... Like nano coatings.....carbon fiber.. And lots of others..
Even nanotechnology is pretty much all about chemistry... Its the chemistry on quantum or atomic level
no nanotechnology is also a part of physics and maths it requires angle formulas and some pressure regarding concepts
Preparation and Applications of Nanomaterial for Drug Delivery
Hafiz Reply
Application of nanotechnology in medicine
has a lot of application modern world
what is variations in raman spectra for nanomaterials
Jyoti Reply
ya I also want to know the raman spectra
I only see partial conversation and what's the question here!
Crow Reply
what about nanotechnology for water purification
RAW Reply
please someone correct me if I'm wrong but I think one can use nanoparticles, specially silver nanoparticles for water treatment.
yes that's correct
I think
Nasa has use it in the 60's, copper as water purification in the moon travel.
nanocopper obvius
what is the stm
Brian Reply
is there industrial application of fullrenes. What is the method to prepare fullrene on large scale.?
industrial application...? mmm I think on the medical side as drug carrier, but you should go deeper on your research, I may be wrong
How we are making nano material?
what is a peer
What is meant by 'nano scale'?
What is STMs full form?
scanning tunneling microscope
how nano science is used for hydrophobicity
Do u think that Graphene and Fullrene fiber can be used to make Air Plane body structure the lightest and strongest. Rafiq
what is differents between GO and RGO?
what is simplest way to understand the applications of nano robots used to detect the cancer affected cell of human body.? How this robot is carried to required site of body cell.? what will be the carrier material and how can be detected that correct delivery of drug is done Rafiq
analytical skills graphene is prepared to kill any type viruses .
Any one who tell me about Preparation and application of Nanomaterial for drug Delivery
what is Nano technology ?
Bob Reply
write examples of Nano molecule?
The nanotechnology is as new science, to scale nanometric
nanotechnology is the study, desing, synthesis, manipulation and application of materials and functional systems through control of matter at nanoscale
how did you get the value of 2000N.What calculations are needed to arrive at it
Smarajit Reply
Privacy Information Security Software Version 1.1a
Richard is sitting on his chair and reading a newspaper three (3) meters away from the door
Jeo Reply
The fundamental frequency of a sonometer wire streached by a load of relative density 's'are n¹ and n² when the load is in air and completly immersed in water respectively then the lation n²/na is
Mukesh Reply
Properties of longitudinal waves
Sharoon Reply

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Source:  OpenStax, Siyavula textbooks: grade 10 physical science [caps]. OpenStax CNX. Sep 30, 2011 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11305/1.7
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