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.

Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs)

Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), family of synthetic chemicals that are compounds of the elements chlorine, fluorine, and carbon. CFCs are stable, nonflammable, noncorrosive, relatively nontoxic chemicals and are easy and inexpensive to produce. During the 1970s, scientists linked CFCs to the destruction of Earth’s ozone layer. The manufacture of CFCs has since been banned in most countries.


Scientists developed the first CFCs during the late 1920s. The compounds subsequently became used in a wide range of industrial products in the United States, Europe, and Japan. Manufacturers used CFCs as refrigerants in refrigerators, freezers, air conditioners, and heat pumps, and as propellants in aerosols and medical inhalers. CFCs also served as insulating foams in packaging materials, furniture, bedding, and car seats. Cleaning agents for electronic circuit boards, metal parts, and dry cleaning processes also used CFCs.

Learn more: