What are Plasma Chains?

By Ether Crunch | Ether Crunch | 15 Jun 2024



A Plasma Chain is a scaling solution relying on Merkle trees and smart contracts. This chain is an auxiliary of the main chain, connected to the main chain but operating independently of it. Working in a similar manner to other scaling solutions, Plasma Chains offloads some of the transactions on the main chain, allowing for greater speed and lower transaction fees. In other words, they take some of the transactions from the main blockchain, process them, and then send them back to the main blockchain. The way a Plasma Chain works can be summarized in the following categories:

Child Chains: Plasma Chains are essentially child chains; they are built atop the main blockchain, called the root chain. These child chains are managed by a smart contract deployed on the main blockchain. Additionally, a bridge is established between the child chains and the main blockchain, which makes it different from a sidechain, wherein a direct connection is established. This allows the child chain to inherit some of the security of the main blockchain.

Off-chain computations: On the main blockchain, every node must process every single transaction. Due to this, the main blockchain can only process a limited number of transactions per second. Plasma chains take some of the transactions from the main blockchain and process them separately. This off-chain computation allows these child chains to process these transactions faster, as fewer nodes must verify them.

State commitments: These child chains cannot inherit the main blockchain’s security without the state of the chain being verified by the main blockchain. Plasma chains do this in the form of state commitments. These commitments are related to a Merkle Tree, a multi-level data structure, and are sent periodically to the main blockchain. State commitments can be thought of as “save points,” communicating the state of the child chain to the main blockchain.

Entries/Exits and Challenge Period: To move funds between the main blockchain and the Plasma Chain a master contract, deployed on the main blockchain, manages the Plasma chain. The master contract regulates all entries and exits on the Plasma Chain, yet exiting does have one major problem: what if some of these transactions are invalid? To ensure the validity of all withdrawals, a challenge period is introduced. Like an optimistic rollup, the transactions are checked through fraud-proofs, checking for fraud.


Many of the benefits of Plasma Chains are similar to those of any other scaling solution. Some of these benefits include:

  • High Efficiency: Plasma chains increase the efficiency of transactions as they distribute the transactions across different child chains. This allows a large number of transactions to be processed far more quickly.
  • Lower Gas Fees: As mentioned before, Plasma chains distribute the transactions across different child chains, and this has the added effect of reducing gas fees. Gas fees are proportional to how much “work” is required to process transactions, so with greater efficiency comes lower costs.
  • Greater Security: As Plasma Chains are connected to the main blockchain through bridges and state commitments, they have a greater level of security than sidechains or other scaling solutions.

Some examples of Plasma chains include Polygon sidechain, OMG Network, Gluon, and Loom Network.

If you want to learn more, check out the links below:

Plasma Chains

What is a Plasma Blockchain?

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Basics to blockchain, crypto, and ethereum.

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