States of Matter

Matter can exist in at least four fundamental states viz. solid, liquid, gas and plasma. There are other states also such as Bose–Einstein condensate, quark-gluon plasmas etc. which don’t exist in our natural environment.

Basic difference between Solid, Liquid and Gas

In solids, the constituent particles are held very close to each other in an orderly fashion and there is not much freedom of movement.  In liquids, the particles are close to each other but they can move around. In gases, the particles are far apart as compared to those present in solid or liquid states and their movement is easy and fast.

Because of such arrangement of particles, solids have definite volume and definite shape; the Liquids have definite volume but not the definite shape. They take the shape of the container in which they are placed. The Gases have neither definite volume nor definite shape. Gases completely occupy the container in which they are placed. These states of matter are interconvertible by changing the conditions of temperature and pressure.


Plasma is one of the four fundamental states of matter. Plasma is basically ionized molecules or atoms. The Ionization can be induced by heat or strong electromagnetic field applied with a laser or microwave generator. When this is done, the molecular bonds dissociate to give rise to Plasma.

Difference between Gas and Plasma

Like gas, plasma does not have a definite shape or a definite volume unless enclosed in a container. However, unlike gas, plasma can form structures such as filaments, beams and double layers under the influence of a magnetic field.

Plasma in Universe

Plasma is most common state of matter in universe and most of it is found as rarefied inter-galactic plasma. It is found in stars and galaxies.

Plasma in appliances

In everyday life, plasma can be found in many electronic instruments such as Plasma TV, Neon Lights, Static Electric sparks etc. Further, the area in front of a spacecraft’s heat shield during re-entry into the atmosphere is a plasma.  The electric arc in an arc lamp, an arc welder or plasma torch is also plasma. Laser-produced plasmas (LPP) are created when high power lasers interact with materials. Magnetically induced plasmas (MIP) are typically produced using microwaves as a resonant coupling method.

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