Visions 14: Technological plasmas
Gases containing electrically charged particles offer an excellent way of manipulating and transforming materials in a controlled way
Plasmas are the most common form of matter in the visible Universe. They are gases containing charged particles – usually electrons and atoms that have lost electrons (ions). All the stars we see are essentially plasma, as is much of tenuous matter found between the stars.
Interactions between charged particles, and with any neutral atoms or molecules, produces light.
We can see the effect in the beautiful aurora – as plasma from the Sun (the solar wind) interacts with molecules in the Earth’s atmosphere – and, closer to home, in fire, lightning and in brightly coloured neon signs.
Visions 14: Technological plasmas (PDF, 126 KB)