Difference Between Gas and Plasma

Edited by Diffzy | Updated on: April 30, 2023


Difference Between Gas and Plasma

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There are four types of matter: liquid, solid, gas, and plasma. A gas can consist of individual atoms, such as the noble gases neon, or it can also be composed of elemental molecules like oxygen made up of many atoms. Molecular atoms that have had one or more orbital elements removed or, in rare cases, an additional electron added. Free electrons are combined to make plasma.

What is a state of matter?

The term "matter" is used to describe everything that has mass and occupies space in the universe. All matter is composed of atoms and elements. Sometimes atoms are closely bound, and other times they scatter widely.

The visible or felt properties can generally be used to describe states of matter. The matter that feels solid and has a fixed shape is called solid. The matter that feels fluid and retains its volume is called liquid, not its shape. Gas is the matter that can change its shape and volume.

While introductory chemistry textbooks may name solids, gases, and liquids as the three states, higher-level texts identify plasma as the fourth state. Plasma can be transformed into gas like a gas. However, unlike gas, plasma can also change its electrical charges.

Different elements, compounds, and solutions can behave differently depending on the state of matter. Solid water (ice), for example, feels cold and hard, while liquid water (water) is fluid and mobile. Water is an unusual form of matter. It expands when it forms a crystal structure.

Gas vs. Plasma

Plasma and Gas are both matter states. However, they differ due to their properties. Both are distinct in the way they contain molecules. Plasma's close-packed molecules make it possible to conduct electricity through gas molecules.

Gas is a state of matter that has a defined shape and volume. Solids and liquids, on the other hand, have a lower density. There is a lot of space between particles that have a lot of kinetic energy. The particles interact quickly, and they travel fast, dispersing or spreading until they are evenly distributed throughout the container's volume.

Plasma is the fourth state of matter. Plasma is formed when a gas is heated until its electrons are sufficiently charged to let go of the positively charged nucleus. When molecular connections are broken, and atoms lose or receive electrons, ions can be created. Plasma can be created using a laser, microwave generator, or other powerful electromagnetic fields.

Difference between gas and plasma in tabular form

Parameters for Comparison Gas Plasma
Type The 3rd State of Matter The Fourth State of Matter
Definition A substance or matter that expands freely to fill a container's entire capacity. It is not solid or liquid. An ionized gas has a high percentage of positive ions or free electrons. This results in almost zero total electric charges. It is often used at very low pressures and at extremely high temperatures.
The conductivity of Electric Current Very low Very high
You have the ability to operate independently One Two or more
Velocity Distribution Maxwellian non-Maxwellian
Interactions between molecules Binary Collective

The comparison table shows the difference between gas and plasma. We will discuss in details in the next section of the content.

What is gas?

Gas is made up of solid, liquid, and plasma, which are the three basic states of matter. A pure gas can be made up of individual atoms, elemental molecules or complex molecules that are made from a variety of different atoms. carbon dioxide).

A mixture of gases, such as air, can be made up of many pure gases. The vast separation of specific gas particles allows gas to be distinguished from solids and liquids.

There may be a certain amount of neutral particles available depending on the temperature and density. In this case, plasma is called partly ionized.

Neon signs and lighting are partially ionized plasmas. Plasma is difficult to define, unlike the three other states of matter. It's therefore subject to interpretation and context.

It is difficult to observe most gases immediately due to four factors, or macroscopic properties, that are pressure, volume, number, and temperature.

These four distinct features have been observed by scientists Robert Boyle and Jacques Charles, John Dalton John Gay-Lussac, and Amedeo Ovogadro, for a wide range of gases in different environments. Their extensive research led to an ideal gas law that mathematically connected these four qualities.

One of the states where matter can exist is gas. It is contradictory to liquids and solids. Gases don't have an ordered structure and can occupy any space. Gas particles can be separated, and there is a greater distance between them in a mixture than in a solution or solid. They don't possess strong intermolecular forces. Variables like temperature and pressure can greatly affect their behaviour. Gases shrink when they are under high pressure. When the pressure is removed, they expand to fill the space. There are many types and amounts gas in the atmosphere. Some gases can be diatomic (nitrogen and oxygen) while others are monoatomic (argon and helium). Some gases contain only one element (oxygen gas), while others have two or more elements (carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxide).

You can colour or make gas colours. If they are spread over large volumes, a coloured gas will appear colourless to the naked eye. Hydrogen sulfide is one example of a gas that has a distinctive smell. It is often difficult to identify a gas without a particular physical property. Researchers like Robert Boyle and Jacques Charles, Joseph Gay-Lussac, John Dalton and Joseph Gay-Lussac have investigated various physical properties and behaviours of gases. We have real gas laws and an ideal gas. A theoretical concept of an ideal gas that we use to study the topic is called an ideal gas. These characteristics are necessary for gas to be considered ideal. The gas won't be considered ideal if one of these characteristics is missing.

* The inter molecular forces between molecules of gas are negligible.

* Gas molecules are considered point particles. The volume of molecules is insignificant when compared to the area where they are found.

Three variables are required to define an ideal gas: pressure, volume, and temperature. This equation describes ideal gases.


If one or both of these assumptions is incorrect, the gas is called real gas. Real gases are found in nature. A real gas is not in its ideal state at low pressures or high temperatures.

Gas properties

1. Compressibility

Gas particles have large intermolecular spaces between them. This space can be reduced and the particles brought closer by the pressure exerted. This can dramatically reduce the volume of gas. This is called compressing the gas.

2. Expandability

Gas contracts when pressure is applied to it. The gas expands when pressure is released.

The temperature increases, and the particles of the compound gain more energy, travel faster and move further apart. The intermolecular attraction becomes less apparent. The volume of the gas increases.

3. Diffusibility

The gas molecules are in constant motion at high speeds. The intermolecular space between the molecules is enormous. Mixing two gases can result in particles easily passing through the intermolecular spaces of the other. Both gases are then completely and consistently mixed. A mixture of gases is always homogeneous.

4. Low-Density

Gases have large intermolecular space, which means they have large volumes compared to their mass. They have lower densities. It will take 1 ml water at 39.2oF to make steam at 212oF at 1-atmosphere pressure.

What is Plasma?

Irving Langmuir, who extensively studied plasma in the 1920s and 1930s, identified it as one of four fundamental states of matter. Ion gases are composed of atoms or molecules which have lost one or more orbital electrons, as well as free electrons.

Plasma is the most prevalent form of standard matter in our universe. It is also the only one that is not dark matter or the more mysterious dark energy. Plasma is often associated with stars like ours, but it can also be found in the concentrated media intracluster, and possibly even in interplanetary areas.

There may be a certain amount of neutral particles available depending on the temperature and density. In this case, plasma is called partly ionized.

Neon signs and lighting are partially ionized plasmas. Plasma is difficult to define, unlike the three other states of matter. It's therefore subject to interpretation and context.

There may be a certain amount of neutral particles available depending on the temperature and density. In this case, plasma is called partly ionized.

Neon signs and lighting are partially ionized plasmas. Plasma is difficult to define, unlike the three other states of matter. It's therefore subject to interpretation and context.

According to the phenomena in question, a substance must have been ionized before it can be called plasma. Plasma is also a substance that cannot properly be characterized without considering the existence of the charged particle.

Plasma properties

Plasma is an ionized or ionized gas. It is a gas that has enough energy to liberate electrons from atoms and molecules and allow for both ions and electrons to coexist.

Plasma is a state that can be described as matter. Although it is often referred to as a subset or gas, the behaviour of the two states is very different. Plasmas are similar to gases in that they have no fixed volume or shape and are much denser than liquids or solids. Plasmas, however, are composed of atoms that have had some or all of their electrons removed and positively charged nuclei (called ions) roam free.

Plasma is the fourth form of matter. Although there are three types of matter, solid, liquid, and gas, there are actually four. It is interesting to note that plasmas are the most prevalent state of matter in all of the universe. They are also common on Earth. Plasma is a gas which has been energized so that some electrons travel with their nucleus and break away from it. There are many ways gas can be made into plasmas. All require the injection of energy. A plasma is created when a spark is placed in a gas. The plasma can be made useful by passing hot gas through a spark. These plasma torches are used in industry to remove metals. The sun is the largest source of plasma. The enormous heat of the sun shatters electrons from the hydrogen and helium atoms that make up the sun. The sun is, in essence, a huge ball of plasma, just like other stars.

Charged particles

A typical gas such as hydrogen sulfide or nitrogen is made up of molecules with a net cost of zero. This gives the entire gas volume a net cost of zero. Because plasmas are composed of charged particles, they may have a net charging of zero for their entire volume, but not at the level of individual particles. This means that the electrostatic forces between particles in plasma can be significant.

Plasmas are made up of charged particles and can conduct electricity. Plasmas can also have magnetic fields because moving charges create magnetic fields.

All particles in an ordinary gas will behave the same. If you put gas in a container, let it cool down to room temperature, then all molecules will behave the same way. If you measure the speed of many particles, you would get a distribution curve. There are lots of particles moving close to the average speed and only a few moving very slowly or fast. This is because molecules in gas hit each other like billiard balls and transfer energy.

Difference between gas and plasma in points

Some principal difference between gas and plasma are summarised below:

  1. Plasma is a combination of binary and collective interactions. Gas has binary interactions.
  2. Plasma is very conductive, while gas has very low electrical conductivity.
  3. Plasma and Gas can both independently act on one species, while Plasma can independently act on multiple species.
  4. The gas molecules are very far apart and can be compressed. Molecules of the plasma may have a charge and some electrons are taken from the shell.
  5. While collisional interactions in heated plasmas are weak, they are strong in gases.


Although plasmas look similar to gas, their atoms differ because they contain free electrons and ions from a specific element like neon (Ne). Plasma is composed of groups of negatively and positively charged particles. This makes it different from a gas. Neon gas' electrons are completely linked to its nucleus.

The difference between plasma and gas is that the atoms in a gas are still intact and can be linked to molecules. Plasma, however, has at least some electrons separated from their atoms. Plasma particles are charged, while gas particles are mostly uncharged.


  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plasma_(physics)
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gas
  3. https://www.livescience.com/53304-gases.html


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"Difference Between Gas and Plasma." Diffzy.com, 2024. Sun. 14 Apr. 2024. <https://www.diffzy.com/article/difference-between-gas-and-plasma-261>.

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