Is Energy a Matter? (And Why?)

No, energy is not a matter. Energy is a property or characteristic of matter and other physical systems. Energy is the capacity to do work or produce a change, 1 but it does not possess mass or occupy physical space like matter does.

Well, this was just a simple answer. But there are few more things to know about this topic which will make your concept super clear.

So let’s dive right into it.

Why is energy not a matter?

Energy is not considered to be matter because it does not have mass or occupy physical space. Matter refers to substances that have mass and occupy space, such as atoms, molecules, and particles. 2 3

Energy, on the other hand, is a property or characteristic of matter and objects. It is the capacity to do work or cause changes in matter. Energy can exist in various forms, such as kinetic energy (energy of motion), potential energy (stored energy), thermal energy (heat), electromagnetic energy (light), and many others. 4

Although energy can interact with matter and be transferred between objects, it is not composed of particles and does not exhibit the properties of matter. Instead, energy is a concept used to describe the ability of objects to perform work or undergo changes. It is often quantified and measured in units such as joules or calories. 5

So, while matter and energy are closely related and interconnected in many physical processes, they are distinct concepts in physics. Matter refers to the substance itself, while energy refers to its ability to cause changes or do work.

What are the differences between energy and matter?

Here’s a table highlighting the key differences between energy and matter:

DefinitionThe capacity to do work or cause changes.Physical substance that occupies space and has mass.
CompositionNot composed of particles.Composed of particles (atoms, molecules, etc.).
MassHas no mass.Has mass.
Occupies SpaceDoes not occupy physical space.Occupies physical space.
FormsCan exist in various forms such as kinetic, potential, thermal, electromagnetic, etc.Can exist in different states (solid, liquid, gas) 6 7 and various forms (elements, compounds, mixtures, etc.). 8
ExamplesLight, heat, sound, electrical energy.Water, air, rocks, living organisms.

Further reading

Is Heat a Matter?
Is Water a Matter?
Is Sound a Matter?
Is Electricity a Matter?
Is Fire a Matter?

About author

Jay is an educator and has helped more than 100,000 students in their studies by providing simple and easy explanations on different science-related topics. He is a founder of Pediabay and is passionate about helping students through his easily digestible explanations.

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  3. Matter.
  4. Forms of energy – U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). (2023, July 17). Forms of Energy – U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).
  5. Units of energy – Wikipedia. (2015, August 1). Units of Energy – Wikipedia.
  6. List of states of matter – Wikipedia. (2023, June 8). List of States of Matter – Wikipedia.

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