How is plasma made?


Quick Answer

Plasma is an ionized gas that contains free-flowing ions, and is composed of electrically charged atoms and electrons, which are negatively charged particles, according to Tom Harris for HowStuffWorks. Plasma has been energized to the point that some of the electrons break free but still travel within their nucleus. All gases have the potential to become plasma, but it is the energy infusion into a gas that ultimately creates plasma.

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Full Answer

Plasma is the most common state of matter in the universe out of the four fundamental states. The others are solids, liquids and gases. Plasma is similar to a gas because it doesn't have a unique physical shape or volume, but it can be enclosed in a container. The sun is a giant mass of plasma. The sun's abundance of heat energy forces the hydrogen and helium molecules available in its gases to rip apart and create plasma. Plasma typically forms at low pressures, as is evident in the upper atmosphere and fluorescent lamps. It can also be formed at extremely high temperatures. Plasma is seen in stars and nuclear fusion reactors. The ionization of gas particles occurs both through heat energy and strong electromagnetic fields applied with a laser or microwave generator.

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