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# thermal expansion

Increase in volume of a material as its temperature is increased, usually expressed as a fractional change in dimensions per unit temperature change.

When the material is a solid, thermal expansion is usually described in terms of change in length, height, or thickness. If a crystalline solid has the same structural configuration throughout, the expansion will be uniform in all dimensions. Otherwise, there may be different expansion coefficients and the solid will change shape as the temperature increases. If the material is a fluid, it is more useful to describe the expansion in terms of a change in volume. Because the bonding forces among atoms and molecules vary from material to material, expansion coefficients are characteristic of elements and compounds.

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the general increase in the volume of a material as its temperature is increased. It is usually expressed as a fractional change in length or volume per unit temperature change; a linear expansion coefficient is usually employed in describing the expansion of a solid, while a volume expansion coefficient is more useful for a liquid or a gas. If a crystalline solid (crystal) is isometric (has the same structural configuration throughout), the expansion will be uniform in all dimensions of the crystal. If it is not isometric, there may be different expansion coefficients for different crystallographic directions, and the crystal will change shape as the temperature changes.

In a solid or liquid, there is a dynamic balance between the cohesive forces holding the atoms or molecules together and the conditions created by temperature; higher temperatures imply greater distance between atoms. Different materials have different bonding forces and therefore different expansion coefficients.

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Universalium. 2010.

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