What Is Plasma?

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 10,535
    Science expert Emerald Robinson explains what plasma is and how it reacts to its environment.

    Emerald Robinson: Hi! I am Emerald Robinson and in this What Is video, we're going to investigate the state of matter called Plasma.

    Plasma is the state of matter that consists of mass of free electrons and positively charged particles called Cations mixed together. Plasma has neither a specific shape nor a consistent volume. In other words, plasma can easily flow into and take the shape of a container. And it will expand redistributing itself to evenly fill that container.

    Although, other properties of plasma are similar to those of gases, Plasma and gases are not the same thing. In plasma electrons are released from their orbits around the nucleus, creating a soup of free electrons and nuclei. Because these charged particles are loose, plasma easily conducts electricity and both produces and responds to magnetic fields. Plasma is created when a gas is either exposed to a high temperature or when high voltage electricity is passed through it. The heat or electricity makes the atoms in the gas move so quickly and collide so violently with one another that electrons are knocked from their orbits. Because of the way they are created, plasmas are sometimes called Ionized Gases. Other plasma isn't discussed as often as solids, liquids and gases and what's the last phase in matter discovered you're probably more familiar with plasma than you think. Plasma gives neon and florescent lights their glow, is from during lighting strides and of course, is present in plasma television. Can this also classify fire as plasma?

    Plasma makes up our sun and is visible in the solar flairs that irrupt from its surface, because plasma is the stuff of stars, it is the most common state of matter making up about 99% of the observable universe.