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What Is Plasma?

Plasma is one of the phases of matter. It is actually the most abundant phase of matter that can be found in the universe. Stars and interstellar dust are actually made of plasma. Even though plasma is classified as a phase of matter it is actually ionized gas, which has similarities to regular gas, with the exception of electrons being stripped from their nucleons, and floating freely inside the plasma. So even if a gas will only lose one percent of its electrons, the gas will still show plasma like behavior.

Plasma can conduct electricity and can also be manipulated or controlled by magnetic fields. Plasma is also used in many everyday applications. Among these applications include plasma displays, neon signs, fluorescent laps, photolithographic etching machines, and plasma balls. In nature, plasma is involved in such natural phenomena as lightning, and aurora the borealis.

Plasma, by its very nature, has a wide variety. but there are some parameters that are being employed in order to help in classifying them. Among these parameters include the degree of ionization, the temperature, the density of the magnetic field and the density of particles. An example of this would be comparing the plasma that surrounds the flame of a candle – which is only ionized a little bit, and the air that surrounds a lightning bolt, which is highly ionized. There are plasmas that only produce low temperatures, for example, the intergalactic medium. Then there are plasmas that produce extremely high temperatures, like the cores of stars.

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