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What is Plasma?

What is Plasma?

Credit: Juan David Osorio B.
Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/26024069@N00/2739443558
License: CC BY-NC 3.0

A plasma globe has a high-voltage electrode at the center of a sphere filled with noble gases. When excited by electricity, the gases glow with a signature color.

Why It Matters

  • Plasma is the 4th state of matter, which includes solids, liquids and gases.
  • Plasma is like gas since it doesn’t have a defined size or shape.
  • Credit: Will Folsom
    Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/willfolsom/6951127040/
    License: CC BY-NC 3.0

    This machine generates different colored plasma based on which gas is pumped into it [Figure2]

     

  • Stars are made of plasma and much of the space between stars is filled with a very thin amount of plasma.

Explore More

With the link below, learn more about plasma. Then answer the following questions.

  1. How does the structure of plasma differ from the structure of gas?
  2. What are some products that contain plasma that you might have around your home or that you might see in the neighborhood where you live?
  3. What creates light in a plasma?
  4. Why do neon lights glow different colors?
  5. How is plasma used in the electronics industry?

Image Attributions

  1. [1]^ Credit: Juan David Osorio B.; Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/26024069@N00/2739443558; License: CC BY-NC 3.0
  2. [2]^ Credit: Will Folsom; Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/willfolsom/6951127040/; License: CC BY-NC 3.0

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