Matter & Energy

Matter is composed of atoms or groups of atoms called molecules. The arrangement of particles in a material depends on the physical state of the substance. In a solid, particles form a compact structure that resists flow. Particles in a liquid have more energy than those in a solid. They can flow past one another, but they remain close. Particles in a gas have the most energy. They move rapidly and are separated from one another by relatively large distances.


Bronze, metal compound containing copper and other elements. The term bronze was originally applied to an alloy of copper containing tin, but the term is now used to describe a variety of copper-rich material, including aluminum bronze, manganese bronze, and silicon bronze.


Bronze is stronger and harder than any other common metal alloy except steel. It does not easily break under stress, is corrosion resistant, and is easy to form into finished shapes by molding, casting, or machining.

The strongest bronze alloys contain tin and a small amount of lead. Tin, silicon, or aluminum is often added to bronze to improve its corrosion resistance. As bronze weathers, a brown or green film forms on the surface. This film inhibits corrosion. For example, many bronze statues erected hundreds of years ago show little sign of corrosion. Bronzes have a low melting point, a characteristic that makes them useful for brazing—that is, for joining two pieces of metal. When used as brazing material, bronze is heated above 430°C (800°F), but not above the melting point of the metals being joined. The molten bronze fuses to the other metals, forming a solid joint after cooling.

Lead is often added to make bronze easier to machine. Silicon bronze is machined into piston rings and screening, and because of its resistance to chemical corrosion it is also used to make chemical containers. Manganese bronze is used for valve stems and welding rods. Aluminum bronzes are used in engine parts and in marine hardware.

Bronze containing 10 percent or more tin is most often rolled or drawn into wires, sheets, and pipes. Tin bronze, in a powdered form, is sintered (heated without being melted), pressed into a solid mass, saturated with oil, and used to make self-lubricating bearings.