Plasma TVs work by converting electrical energy into light by generating ultraviolet light and converting it into red, green or blue light. Unlike most television technologies, plasma TVs don't need an additional light source.
Plasma TVs use neon and xenon gas, both of which are not flammable and are inert, and each sealed cell contains the same gas. Sending electricity through the cell makes this gas into a plasma that emits ultraviolet radiation. The individual cells have phosphorous material that emits light when ionized, and the ultraviolet radiation forces this ionization.
Like most digital TVs, plasma TVs use a grid of cells that emit red, green or blue light. Three of these cells combine to effectively create one pixel. Pixels can generate a broad spectrum of colors by lighting or dimming individual color cells. Plasma TVs rely on both horizontally and vertically aligned electrodes that send electricity to individual cells. These electrodes do most of the work, as the energy they emit eventually converts into visible light.
While some ultraviolet radiation can leak through, plasma TVs generally emit less ultraviolet light than typically tube TVs. Because plasma TVs don't need an additional light source, black pixels are completely black. This gives plasma TVs a high contrast ratio and helps make colors seem more vivid.