Plasma is the so-called ‘fourth stage of matter’. It’s produced when a very intense beam of laser light comes into contact with matter and, as its temperature rapidly rises, the matter passes beyond a solid, liquid or gaseous state, with atoms ripped apart to create a pseudo-gaseous soup of sub-atomic particles. This soup is known as a plasma.
Plasma is much, much hotter than the matter we experience on a day-to-day basis. Crucially, once formed, it’s easy to use laser pulses to heat plasmas further and manipulate them – giving rise to some of the most amazing and awe-inspiring science known to man.