Gas vs Plasma: Difference and Comparison

There are four states of matter: solid, liquid, gas and plasma. For example, a gas can be made up of individual atoms (like noble gases neon) or elemental molecules like oxygen consisting of a variety of atoms.

Atoms or molecules that have had one or more orbital electrons removed (or, in rare circumstances, an extra electron added) and free electrons combine to form plasma.

Key Takeaways

  1. Gas is a state of matter with no fixed shape or volume, while plasma is an ionized state of matter containing charged particles.
  2. The gas consists of atoms or molecules in constant motion, whereas plasma contains ions and free electrons that allow it to conduct electricity.
  3. Plasma is found in high-energy environments like stars and lightning, while gas is more commonly observed in everyday life.

Gas vs Plasma 

A gas is a substance that has no fixed size or shape. When inside a closed container, a gas will expand to fill the container. An example of gas is the air you breathe. Plasma is a highly energized and ionized gas in which the electrons have been stripped from the atoms, resulting in a mixture of positively charged ions and negatively charged free electrons.

Gas vs Plasma

Undefined shape and volume characterize the condition of a substance known as “gas.” In contrast to gases, solids and liquids have such a lower density.

Between particles with a lot of kinetic energy, there is a lot of space. The particles travel quickly and interact, causing them to disperse or spread out until they are uniformly distributed across the container’s volume.

The fourth state of matter is referred to as plasma. Heating a gas until its electrons have enough energy to escape the grip of the positively charged nucleus produces plasma.

Ions arise when molecular connections break, and atoms receive or lose electrons. A laser, microwave generator, or another powerful electromagnetic field can be used to create plasma.

Comparison Table  

Parameters of ComparisonGasPlasma
Type The 3rd State of MatterThe 4th State of Matter
Definitiona substance or matter in the state of expanding freely to fill the whole capacity of a container, with no set shape (unlike a solid) or volume (unlike a liquid).an ionized gas with a percentage of positive ions and free electrons that results in almost no total electric charge, at low pressures or at extremely high temperatures
The conductivity of Electric CurrentVery LowVery High
The capacity of operating independentlyOneTwo or More
Velocity DistributionMaxwelliannon-Maxwellian
Interactions in moleculesBinaryCollective

What is Gas?

With solid, liquid and plasma as the other three states of matter that make up the four basic states of matter, gas is one.

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Individual atoms (such as a noble gas like neon), elemental molecules, or complex molecules made of a variety of atoms can make up a pure gas (e.g. carbon dioxide).

A gas mixture, such as air, is made up of a variety of pure gases. A gas is distinguished from liquids and solids by the vast separation of particular gas particles.

A certain proportion of neutral particles may be available, depending on temperature and density, in which case plasma is referred to as partly ionized.

Partially ionized plasmas include neon signs and lighting. Because plasma is not well defined, unlike the other three states of matter, it’s a matter of interpretation and context.

Pressure, volume, number of particles, and temperature are four physical factors or macroscopic properties that make it hard to observe most gases right away.

Scientists Robert Boyle, Jacques Charles, John Dalton, Joseph Gay-Lussac and Amedeo Avogadro have consistently observed these four distinctive features for a variety of gases in diverse environments.

In the end, their comprehensive research resulted in an ideal gas law-expressed mathematical connection between these qualities.

gas

What is Plasma? 

Plasma, extensively investigated by Irving Langmuir in the 1920s, is one of the four basic states of matter. Ion gases are made of atoms or molecules that have dropped one or more orbital electrons and also free electrons.

Plasma is the most common form of standard matter in the universe, aside from dark matter and the much more elusive dark energy.

Plasma is associated with stars, such as our own, but it may also be found in the concentrated medium intracluster and possibly in interplanetary areas.

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A certain proportion of neutral particles may be available, depending on temperature and density, in which case plasma is referred to as partly ionized.

Partially ionized plasmas include neon signs and lighting. Because plasma is not well defined, unlike the other three states of matter, it’s a matter of interpretation and context.

A certain proportion of neutral particles may be available, depending on temperature and density, in which case plasma is referred to as partly ionized.

Partially ionized plasmas include neon signs and lighting. Because plasma is not well defined, unlike the other three states of matter, it’s a matter of interpretation and context.

According to the phenomenon in concern, a substance must be ionized to be called “plasma.” In other words, plasma is a substance that cannot be properly characterized without taking into consideration the existence of charged particles.

plasma

Main Differences Between Gas and Plasma 

  1. Gas has binary interactions, while Plasma has collective interactions. 
  2. Gas has a very low electrical conductivity, but Plasma has a very high electrical conductivity. 
  3. Gas independently acts on a single species, while Plasma independently acts on two or more species. 
  4. Molecules in the gas are extremely wide apart and may be compressed, molecules in plasma have a charge on them and some electrons are taken from the shell.
  5. In heated plasmas, collisional interactions are weak, but collisional interactions are high in gases.
Difference Between Gas and Plasma

References

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

Last Updated : 09 August, 2023

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