Supercharge your learning!

Use adaptive quiz-based learning to study this topic faster and more effectively.

Summary of heat capacity and latent heat

A summary of the properties of the four different measures of thermal energy is given below.

Heat capacity

  • Thermal energy required to raise the temperature of an object by $$1 ^{\circ}\text{C}$$
  • Depends on material and on mass
  • $$\Torange{C} = \dfrac{\Tred{\text{thermal energy}}}{\Tblue{\text{change in temperature}} } = \dfrac{\Tred{Q}}{\Tblue{\Delta T}}$$
  • Measured in $$ \text{J} / ^{\circ} \text{C}$$ or $$\text{J K}^{-1}$$

Specific heat capacity

  • Thermal energy required to raise the temperature of $$1\text{ kg}$$ of a material by $$1 ^{\circ}\text{C}$$
  • Refers to a material and does not depend on mass
  • $$\Torange{c}=\dfrac{\Tred{\text{thermal energy}}}{\Tblue{\text{change in temperature}} \times \Tviolet{\text{mass}}} = \dfrac{\Tred{Q}}{\Tblue{\Delta T}\Tviolet{m}}$$
  • Measured in $$ \text{J} / ^{\circ} \text{C}\text{kg}$$ or $$\text{J kg}^{-1}\text{K}^{-1}$$

Latent heat

  • Energy released or absorbed when a substance changes state at constant temperature
  • Depends on material and on mass
  • Different latent heats for different phase changes
  • Symbol is $$\Torange{L}$$, and is measured in $$ \text{J}$$

Specific latent heat

  • Energy released or absorbed when $$1 \text{ kg}$$ of a substance changes state at constant temperature
  • Refers to a material and does not depend on mass
  • $$\Torange{\ell}=\dfrac{\Tred{\text{thermal energy}}}{\Tviolet{\text{mass}}} = \dfrac{\Tred{Q}}{\Tviolet{m}}$$
  • Measured in $$ \text{J} /\text{kg}$$