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Plasma(physics)
FromWikipedia,thefreeencyclopedia

Forotheruses,seePlasma.
Plasma(fromGreek,"anything
formed"[1])isoneofthefourfundamental
statesofmatter,theothersbeingsolid,
liquid,andgas.Aplasmahasproperties
unlikethoseoftheotherstates.

Plasma

Aplasmacanbecreatedbyheatingagas
orsubjectingittoastrong
electromagneticfieldappliedwithalaser
ormicrowavegenerator.Thisdecreasesor
increasesthenumberofelectrons,
creatingpositiveornegativecharged
particlescalledions,[2]andis
accompaniedbythedissociationof
molecularbonds,ifpresent.[3]

Thepresenceofasignificantnumberof
chargecarriersmakesplasmaelectrically
conductivesothatitrespondsstronglyto
electromagneticfields.Likegas,plasma
doesnothaveadefiniteshapeora
definitevolumeunlessenclosedina
container.Unlikegas,undertheinfluence
ofamagneticfield,itmayformstructures
suchasfilaments,beamsanddouble
layers.

Toprow:bothlightningandelectricsparksareeverydayexamplesof
phenomenamadefromplasma.Neonlightscouldmoreaccuratelybe
called"plasmalights",becausethelightcomesfromtheplasmainside
ofthem.Bottomrow:Aplasmaglobe,illustratingsomeofthemore
complexphenomenaofaplasma,includingfilamentation.Thecolors
arearesultofrelaxationofelectronsinexcitedstatestolowerenergy
statesaftertheyhaverecombinedwithions.Theseprocessesemitlight
inaspectrumcharacteristicofthegasbeingexcited.Thesecondimage
isofaplasmatrailfromSpaceShuttleAtlantisduringreentryinto
Earth'satmosphere,asseenfromtheInternationalSpaceStation.

Plasmaisthemostabundantformof
ordinarymatterintheUniverse(theonly
matterknowntoexistforsure,themore
abundantdarkmatterishypotheticaland
mayormaynotbeexplainedbyordinary
matter),mostofwhichisintherarefied
intergalacticregions,particularlytheintraclustermedium,andinstars,includingtheSun.[4][5]Acommon
formofplasmasonEarthisseeninneonsigns.
Muchoftheunderstandingofplasmashascomefromthepursuitofcontrollednuclearfusionandfusion
power,forwhichplasmaphysicsprovidesthescientificbasis.

Contents
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1Propertiesandparameters
1.1Definition
1.2Rangesofparameters
1.3Degreeofionization
1.4Temperatures
1.4.1Thermalvs.nonthermalplasmas
1.5Plasmapotential
1.6Magnetization
1.7Comparisonofplasmaandgasphases
2Commonplasmas
3Complexplasmaphenomena
3.1Filamentation
3.2Shocksordoublelayers
3.3Electricfieldsandcircuits
3.4Cellularstructure
3.5Criticalionizationvelocity
3.6Ultracoldplasma
3.7Nonneutralplasma
3.8Dustyplasma/grainplasma
3.9Impermeableplasma
4Mathematicaldescriptions
4.1Fluidmodel
4.2Kineticmodel
5Artificialplasmas
5.1Generationofartificialplasma
5.1.1Electricarc
5.2Examplesofindustrial/commercialplasma
5.2.1Lowpressuredischarges
5.2.2Atmosphericpressure
6History
7Fieldsofactiveresearch
8Seealso
9Notes
10References
11Externallinks

Propertiesandparameters
Definition
Plasmaislooselydescribedasanelectricallyneutralmediumofunboundpositiveandnegativeparticles(i.e.
theoverallchargeofaplasmaisroughlyzero).Itisimportanttonotethatalthoughtheyareunbound,these
particlesarenotfreeinthesenseofnotexperiencingforces.Whenthechargesmove,theygenerateelectric
currentswithmagneticfields,andasaresult,theyareaffectedbyeachothersfields.Thisgovernstheir
collectivebehaviorwithmanydegreesoffreedom.[3][7]Adefinitioncanhavethreecriteria:[8][9]
1. Theplasmaapproximation:Chargedparticlesmustbecloseenoughtogetherthateachparticle
influencesmanynearbychargedparticles,ratherthanjustinteractingwiththeclosestparticle(these
collectiveeffectsareadistinguishingfeatureofaplasma).Theplasmaapproximationisvalidwhenthe
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numberofchargecarrierswithinthesphereofinfluence(calledtheDebyespherewhoseradiusisthe
Debyescreeninglength)ofaparticularparticleishigherthanunitytoprovidecollectivebehaviorof
thechargedparticles.TheaveragenumberofparticlesintheDebyesphereisgivenbytheplasma
parameter,""(theGreekuppercaseletterLambda).
2. Bulkinteractions:TheDebyescreeninglength(definedabove)isshortcomparedtothephysicalsize
oftheplasma.Thiscriterionmeansthatinteractionsinthebulkoftheplasmaaremoreimportantthan
thoseatitsedges,whereboundaryeffectsmaytakeplace.Whenthiscriterionissatisfied,theplasmais
quasineutral.
3. Plasmafrequency:Theelectronplasmafrequency(measuringplasmaoscillationsoftheelectrons)is
largecomparedtotheelectronneutralcollisionfrequency(measuringfrequencyofcollisionsbetween
electronsandneutralparticles).Whenthisconditionisvalid,electrostaticinteractionsdominateover
theprocessesofordinarygaskinetics.

Rangesofparameters
Plasmaparameterscantakeonvaluesvaryingbymanyordersof
magnitude,butthepropertiesofplasmaswithapparentlydisparate
parametersmaybeverysimilar(seeplasmascaling).Thefollowingchart
considersonlyconventionalatomicplasmasandnotexoticphenomena
likequarkgluonplasmas:
Typicalrangesofplasmaparameters:ordersofmagnitude(OOM)
Characteristic
Terrestrialplasmas
Cosmicplasmas
Size
inmeters

106m(labplasmas)to
102m(lightning)(~8
OOM)

106m(spacecraftsheath)
to
1025m(intergalactic
nebula)(~31OOM)

Lifetime
inseconds

1012s(laserproduced
plasma)to
107s(fluorescentlights)
(~19OOM)

101s(solarflares)to
1017s(intergalactic
plasma)(~16OOM)

Density
107m3to
inparticlesper 1032m3(inertial
cubicmeter
confinementplasma)

1m3(intergalactic
medium)to
1030m3(stellarcore)

~0K(crystallinenon
Temperature neutralplasma[11])to
inKelvin
108K(magneticfusion
plasma)

102K(aurora)to
107K(solarcore)

Magnetic
fields
inteslas

104T(labplasma)to
103T(pulsedpower
plasma)

Artist'srenditionoftheEarth's
plasmafountain,showingoxygen,
helium,andhydrogenionsthat
gushintospacefromregionsnear
theEarth'spoles.Thefaintyellow
areashownabovethenorthpole
representsgaslostfromEarthinto
spacethegreenareaistheaurora
borealis,whereplasmaenergy
poursbackintotheatmosphere. [6]

1012T(intergalactic
medium)to
1011T(nearneutronstars)

Degreeofionization

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Forplasmatoexist,ionizationisnecessary.Theterm"plasmadensity"byitselfusuallyreferstothe"electron
density",thatis,thenumberoffreeelectronsperunitvolume.Thedegreeofionizationofaplasmaisthe
proportionofatomsthathavelostorgainedelectrons,andiscontrolledmostlybythetemperature.Evena
partiallyionizedgasinwhichaslittleas1%oftheparticlesareionizedcanhavethecharacteristicsofa
plasma(i.e.,responsetomagneticfieldsandhighelectricalconductivity).Thedegreeofionization, ,is
definedas

,where

isthenumberdensityofionsand

atoms.Theelectrondensityisrelatedtothisbytheaveragechargestate
,where isthenumberdensityofelectrons.

isthenumberdensityofneutral
oftheionsthrough

Temperatures
Seealso:Nonthermalplasma
Plasmatemperatureiscommonlymeasuredinkelvinsor
electronvoltsandis,informally,ameasureofthethermalkinetic
energyperparticle.Veryhightemperaturesareusuallyneededto
sustainionization,whichisadefiningfeatureofaplasma.The
degreeofplasmaionizationisdeterminedbytheelectron
temperaturerelativetotheionizationenergy(andmoreweakly
bythedensity),inarelationshipcalledtheSahaequation.Atlow
temperatures,ionsandelectronstendtorecombineintobound
statesatoms[12]andtheplasmawilleventuallybecomeagas.
Inmostcasestheelectronsarecloseenoughtothermal
equilibriumthattheirtemperatureisrelativelywelldefined,even
whenthereisasignificantdeviationfromaMaxwellianenergy
Rangeofplasmas.Densityincreases
distributionfunction,forexample,duetoUVradiation,energetic
upwards,temperatureincreasestowardsthe
particles,orstrongelectricfields.Becauseofthelargedifference
right.Thefreeelectronsinametalmaybe
inmass,theelectronscometothermodynamicequilibrium
consideredanelectronplasma. [10]
amongstthemselvesmuchfasterthantheycomeintoequilibrium
withtheionsorneutralatoms.Forthisreason,theion
temperaturemaybeverydifferentfrom(usuallylowerthan)theelectrontemperature.Thisisespecially
commoninweaklyionizedtechnologicalplasmas,wheretheionsareoftenneartheambienttemperature.
Thermalvs.nonthermalplasmas
Basedontherelativetemperaturesoftheelectrons,ionsandneutrals,plasmasareclassifiedas"thermal"or
"nonthermal".Thermalplasmashaveelectronsandtheheavyparticlesatthesametemperature,i.e.theyare
inthermalequilibriumwitheachother.Nonthermalplasmasontheotherhandhavetheionsandneutralsata
muchlowertemperature(sometimesroomtemperature),whereaselectronsaremuch"hotter"(
).
Aplasmaissometimesreferredtoasbeing"hot"ifitisnearlyfullyionized,or"cold"ifonlyasmallfraction
(forexample1%)ofthegasmoleculesareionized,butotherdefinitionsoftheterms"hotplasma"and"cold
plasma"arecommon.Evenina"cold"plasma,theelectrontemperatureisstilltypicallyseveralthousand
degreesCelsius.Plasmasutilizedin"plasmatechnology"("technologicalplasmas")areusuallycoldplasmas
inthesensethatonlyasmallfractionofthegasmoleculesareionized.
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Plasmapotential
Sinceplasmasareverygoodelectricalconductors,
electricpotentialsplayanimportantrole.Thepotentialas
itexistsonaverageinthespacebetweencharged
particles,independentofthequestionofhowitcanbe
measured,iscalledthe"plasmapotential",orthe"space
potential".Ifanelectrodeisinsertedintoaplasma,its
potentialwillgenerallylieconsiderablybelowtheplasma
potentialduetowhatistermedaDebyesheath.Thegood
electricalconductivityofplasmasmakestheirelectric
fieldsverysmall.Thisresultsintheimportantconceptof
"quasineutrality",whichsaysthedensityofnegative
chargesisapproximatelyequaltothedensityofpositive
chargesoverlargevolumesoftheplasma(
),butonthescaleoftheDebyelengththerecanbe
chargeimbalance.Inthespecialcasethatdoublelayers
areformed,thechargeseparationcanextendsometensof
Debyelengths.
Themagnitudeofthepotentialsandelectricfieldsmust
bedeterminedbymeansotherthansimplyfindingthenet
chargedensity.Acommonexampleistoassumethatthe
electronssatisfytheBoltzmannrelation:

Differentiatingthisrelationprovidesameanstocalculate
theelectricfieldfromthedensity:

Itispossibletoproduceaplasmathatisnotquasineutral.
Anelectronbeam,forexample,hasonlynegative
charges.Thedensityofanonneutralplasmamust
generallybeverylow,oritmustbeverysmall,otherwise
itwillbedissipatedbytherepulsiveelectrostaticforce.

Lightningisanexampleofplasmapresentat
Earth'ssurface.Typically,lightningdischarges
30,000amperesatupto100millionvolts,and
emitslight,radiowaves,Xraysandevengamma
rays. [13]Plasmatemperaturesinlightningcan
approach28,000K(28,000C50,000F)and
electrondensitiesmayexceed1024m3.

Inastrophysicalplasmas,Debyescreeningpreventselectricfieldsfromdirectlyaffectingtheplasmaover
largedistances,i.e.,greaterthantheDebyelength.However,theexistenceofchargedparticlescausesthe
plasmatogenerate,andbeaffectedby,magneticfields.Thiscananddoescauseextremelycomplex
behavior,suchasthegenerationofplasmadoublelayers,anobjectthatseparateschargeoverafewtensof
Debyelengths.Thedynamicsofplasmasinteractingwithexternalandselfgeneratedmagneticfieldsare
studiedintheacademicdisciplineofmagnetohydrodynamics.

Magnetization

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Plasmawithamagneticfieldstrongenoughtoinfluencethemotionofthechargedparticlesissaidtobe
magnetized.Acommonquantitativecriterionisthataparticleonaveragecompletesatleastonegyration
aroundthemagneticfieldbeforemakingacollision,i.e.,
,where isthe"electron
gyrofrequency"and
isthe"electroncollisionrate".Itisoftenthecasethattheelectronsaremagnetized
whiletheionsarenot.Magnetizedplasmasareanisotropic,meaningthattheirpropertiesinthedirection
paralleltothemagneticfieldaredifferentfromthoseperpendiculartoit.Whileelectricfieldsinplasmasare
usuallysmallduetothehighconductivity,theelectricfieldassociatedwithaplasmamovinginamagnetic
fieldisgivenby
(where istheelectricfield, isthevelocity,and isthemagnetic
field),andisnotaffectedbyDebyeshielding.[14]

Comparisonofplasmaandgasphases
Plasmaisoftencalledthefourthstateofmatteraftersolid,liquidsandgases.[15][16]Itisdistinctfromthese
andotherlowerenergystatesofmatter.Althoughitiscloselyrelatedtothegasphaseinthatitalsohasno
definiteformorvolume,itdiffersinanumberofways,includingthefollowing:
Property

Gas

Plasma

Verylow:Airisan
excellentinsulatoruntilit
Electrical breaksdownintoplasmaat Usuallyveryhigh:Formanypurposes,theconductivityofa
conductivity electricfieldstrengthsabove plasmamaybetreatedasinfinite.
30kilovoltsper
centimeter.[17]
Twoorthree:Electrons,ions,protonsandneutronscanbe
One:Allgasparticles
distinguishedbythesignandvalueoftheirchargesothat
Independently behaveinasimilarway,
theybehaveindependentlyinmanycircumstances,with
actingspecies influencedbygravityandby
differentbulkvelocitiesandtemperatures,allowing
collisionswithoneanother.
phenomenasuchasnewtypesofwavesandinstabilities.
Velocity
distribution

Maxwellian:Collisions
usuallyleadtoaMaxwellian
velocitydistributionofall
gasparticles,withveryfew
relativelyfastparticles.

OftennonMaxwellian:Collisionalinteractionsareoften
weakinhotplasmasandexternalforcingcandrivethe
plasmafarfromlocalequilibriumandleadtoasignificant
populationofunusuallyfastparticles.

Binary:Twoparticle
Collective:Waves,ororganizedmotionofplasma,arevery
collisionsaretherule,three
Interactions
importantbecausetheparticlescaninteractatlongranges
bodycollisionsextremely
throughtheelectricandmagneticforces.
rare.

Commonplasmas
Furtherinformation:Astrophysicalplasma,InterstellarmediumandIntergalacticspace
Plasmasarebyfarthemostcommonphaseofordinarymatterintheuniverse,bothbymassandby
volume.[18]Essentially,allofthevisiblelightfromspacecomesfromstars,whichareplasmaswitha
temperaturesuchthattheyradiatestronglyatvisiblewavelengths.Mostoftheordinary(orbaryonic)matter
intheuniverse,however,isfoundintheintergalacticmedium,whichisalsoaplasma,butmuchhotter,so
thatitradiatesprimarilyasXrays.
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In1937,HannesAlfvnarguedthatifplasmapervadedtheuniverse,itcouldthencarryelectriccurrents
capableofgeneratingagalacticmagneticfield.[19]AfterwinningtheNobelPrize,heemphasizedthat:
Inordertounderstandthephenomenainacertainplasmaregion,itisnecessarytomapnotonly
themagneticbutalsotheelectricfieldandtheelectriccurrents.Spaceisfilledwithanetworkof
currentswhichtransferenergyandmomentumoverlargeorverylargedistances.Thecurrents
oftenpinchtofilamentaryorsurfacecurrents.Thelatterarelikelytogivespace,asalso
interstellarandintergalacticspace,acellularstructure.[20]
Bycontrastthecurrentscientificconsensusisthatabout96%ofthetotalenergydensityintheuniverseisnot
plasmaoranyotherformofordinarymatter,butacombinationofcolddarkmatteranddarkenergy.Our
Sun,andallstars,aremadeofplasma,muchofinterstellarspaceisfilledwithaplasma,albeitaverysparse
one,andintergalacticspacetoo.Evenblackholes,whicharenotdirectlyvisible,arethoughttobefuelledby
accretingionisingmatter(i.e.plasma),[21]andtheyareassociatedwithastrophysicaljetsofluminousejected
plasma,[22]suchasM87'sjetthatextends5,000lightyears.[23]
Inoursolarsystem,interplanetaryspaceisfilledwiththeplasmaoftheSolarWindthatextendsfromtheSun
outtotheheliopause.However,thedensityofordinarymatterismuchhigherthanaverageandmuchhigher
thanthatofeitherdarkmatterordarkenergy.TheplanetJupiteraccountsformostofthenonplasma,only
about0.1%ofthemassand1015%ofthevolumewithintheorbitofPluto.
Dustandsmallgrainswithinaplasmawillalsopickupanetnegativecharge,sothattheyinturnmayact
likeaveryheavynegativeioncomponentoftheplasma(seedustyplasmas).

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Commonformsofplasma
Artificiallyproduced

Thosefoundinplasmadisplays,includingTV
screens.
Insidefluorescentlamps(lowenergylighting),
neonsigns[24]
Rocketexhaustandionthrusters
Theareainfrontofaspacecraft'sheatshield
duringreentryintotheatmosphere
Insideacoronadischargeozonegenerator
Fusionenergyresearch
Theelectricarcinanarclamp,anarcwelderor
plasmatorch
Plasmaball(sometimescalledaplasmasphereor
plasmaglobe)
ArcsproducedbyTeslacoils(resonantaircore
transformerordisruptorcoilthatproducesarcs
similartolightning,butwithalternatingcurrent
ratherthanstaticelectricity)
Plasmasusedinsemiconductordevicefabrication
includingreactiveionetching,sputtering,surface
cleaningandplasmaenhancedchemicalvapor
deposition
Laserproducedplasmas(LPP),foundwhenhigh
powerlasersinteractwithmaterials.
Inductivelycoupledplasmas(ICP),formed
typicallyinargongasforopticalemission
spectroscopyormassspectrometry
Magneticallyinducedplasmas(MIP),typically
producedusingmicrowavesasaresonantcoupling
method
Staticelectricsparks

Terrestrialplasmas

Lightning
St.Elmo'sfire
Upperatmospheric
lightning(e.g.Blue
jets,Bluestarters,
Giganticjets,ELVES)
Sprites
Theionosphere
Theplasmasphere
Thepolaraurorae
Someflames[25][26]
Thepolarwind,a
plasmafountain

Spaceand
astrophysical
plasmas
TheSunand
otherstars
(plasmas
heatedby
nuclear
fusion)
Thesolar
wind
The
interplanetary
medium
(space
between
planets)
The
interstellar
medium
(space
betweenstar
systems)
The
Intergalactic
medium
(space
between
galaxies)
TheIo
Jupiterflux
tube
Accretion
discs
Interstellar
nebulae
Cometaryion
tail

Complexplasmaphenomena
Althoughtheunderlyingequationsgoverningplasmasarerelativelysimple,plasmabehavioris
extraordinarilyvariedandsubtle:theemergenceofunexpectedbehaviorfromasimplemodelisatypical
featureofacomplexsystem.Suchsystemslieinsomesenseontheboundarybetweenorderedand
disorderedbehaviorandcannottypicallybedescribedeitherbysimple,smooth,mathematicalfunctions,or
bypurerandomness.Thespontaneousformationofinterestingspatialfeaturesonawiderangeoflength
scalesisonemanifestationofplasmacomplexity.Thefeaturesareinteresting,forexample,becausetheyare
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verysharp,spatiallyintermittent(thedistancebetweenfeaturesismuchlargerthanthefeaturesthemselves),
orhaveafractalform.Manyofthesefeatureswerefirststudiedinthelaboratory,andhavesubsequently
beenrecognizedthroughouttheuniverse.Examplesofcomplexityandcomplexstructuresinplasmas
include:

Filamentation
Striationsorstringlikestructures,[27]alsoknownasbirkelandcurrents,areseeninmanyplasmas,likethe
plasmaball,theaurora,[28]lightning,[29]electricarcs,solarflares,[30]andsupernovaremnants.[31]Theyare
sometimesassociatedwithlargercurrentdensities,andtheinteractionwiththemagneticfieldcanforma
magneticropestructure.[32]Highpowermicrowavebreakdownatatmosphericpressurealsoleadstothe
formationoffilamentarystructures.[33](SeealsoPlasmapinch)
Filamentationalsoreferstotheselffocusingofahighpowerlaserpulse.Athighpowers,thenonlinearpart
oftheindexofrefractionbecomesimportantandcausesahigherindexofrefractioninthecenterofthelaser
beam,wherethelaserisbrighterthanattheedges,causingafeedbackthatfocusesthelaserevenmore.The
tighterfocusedlaserhasahigherpeakbrightness(irradiance)thatformsaplasma.Theplasmahasanindex
ofrefractionlowerthanone,andcausesadefocusingofthelaserbeam.Theinterplayofthefocusingindex
ofrefraction,andthedefocusingplasmamakestheformationofalongfilamentofplasmathatcanbe
micrometerstokilometersinlength.[34]Oneinterestingaspectofthefilamentationgeneratedplasmaisthe
relativelylowiondensityduetodefocusingeffectsoftheionizedelectrons.[35](SeealsoFilament
propagation)

Shocksordoublelayers
Plasmapropertieschangerapidly(withinafewDebyelengths)acrossatwodimensionalsheetinthe
presenceofa(moving)shockor(stationary)doublelayer.Doublelayersinvolvelocalizedchargeseparation,
whichcausesalargepotentialdifferenceacrossthelayer,butdoesnotgenerateanelectricfieldoutsidethe
layer.Doublelayersseparateadjacentplasmaregionswithdifferentphysicalcharacteristics,andareoften
foundincurrentcarryingplasmas.Theyacceleratebothionsandelectrons.

Electricfieldsandcircuits
Quasineutralityofaplasmarequiresthatplasmacurrentscloseonthemselvesinelectriccircuits.Such
circuitsfollowKirchhoff'scircuitlawsandpossessaresistanceandinductance.Thesecircuitsmustgenerally
betreatedasastronglycoupledsystem,withthebehaviorineachplasmaregiondependentontheentire
circuit.Itisthisstrongcouplingbetweensystemelements,togetherwithnonlinearity,whichmayleadto
complexbehavior.Electricalcircuitsinplasmasstoreinductive(magnetic)energy,andshouldthecircuitbe
disrupted,forexample,byaplasmainstability,theinductiveenergywillbereleasedasplasmaheatingand
acceleration.Thisisacommonexplanationfortheheatingthattakesplaceinthesolarcorona.Electric
currents,andinparticular,magneticfieldalignedelectriccurrents(whicharesometimesgenericallyreferred
toas"Birkelandcurrents"),arealsoobservedintheEarth'saurora,andinplasmafilaments.

Cellularstructure

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Narrowsheetswithsharpgradientsmayseparateregionswithdifferentpropertiessuchasmagnetization,
densityandtemperature,resultingincelllikeregions.Examplesincludethemagnetosphere,heliosphere,and
heliosphericcurrentsheet.HannesAlfvnwrote:"Fromthecosmologicalpointofview,themostimportant
newspaceresearchdiscoveryisprobablythecellularstructureofspace.Ashasbeenseenineveryregionof
spaceaccessibletoinsitumeasurements,thereareanumberof'cellwalls',sheetsofelectriccurrents,which
dividespaceintocompartmentswithdifferentmagnetization,temperature,density,etc."[36]

Criticalionizationvelocity
Thecriticalionizationvelocityistherelativevelocitybetweenanionizedplasmaandaneutralgas,above
whicharunawayionizationprocesstakesplace.Thecriticalionizationprocessisaquitegeneralmechanism
fortheconversionofthekineticenergyofarapidlystreaminggasintoionizationandplasmathermalenergy.
Criticalphenomenaingeneralaretypicalofcomplexsystems,andmayleadtosharpspatialortemporal
features.

Ultracoldplasma
Ultracoldplasmasarecreatedinamagnetoopticaltrap(MOT)bytrappingandcoolingneutralatoms,to
temperaturesof1mKorlower,andthenusinganotherlasertoionizetheatomsbygivingeachofthe
outermostelectronsjustenoughenergytoescapetheelectricalattractionofitsparention.
Oneadvantageofultracoldplasmasaretheirwellcharacterizedandtunableinitialconditions,includingtheir
sizeandelectrontemperature.Byadjustingthewavelengthoftheionizinglaser,thekineticenergyofthe
liberatedelectronscanbetunedaslowas0.1K,alimitsetbythefrequencybandwidthofthelaserpulse.
Theionsinheritthemillikelvintemperaturesoftheneutralatoms,butarequicklyheatedthroughaprocess
knownasdisorderinducedheating(DIH).Thistypeofnonequilibriumultracoldplasmaevolvesrapidly,and
displaysmanyotherinterestingphenomena.[37]
OneofthemetastablestatesofastronglynonidealplasmaisRydbergmatter,whichformsupon
condensationofexcitedatoms.

Nonneutralplasma
Thestrengthandrangeoftheelectricforceandthegoodconductivityofplasmasusuallyensurethatthe
densitiesofpositiveandnegativechargesinanysizeableregionareequal("quasineutrality").Aplasmawith
asignificantexcessofchargedensity,or,intheextremecase,iscomposedofasinglespecies,iscalleda
nonneutralplasma.Insuchaplasma,electricfieldsplayadominantrole.Examplesarechargedparticle
beams,anelectroncloudinaPenningtrapandpositronplasmas.[38]

Dustyplasma/grainplasma
Adustyplasmacontainstinychargedparticlesofdust(typicallyfoundinspace).Thedustparticlesacquire
highchargesandinteractwitheachother.Aplasmathatcontainslargerparticlesiscalledgrainplasma.
Underlaboratoryconditions,dustyplasmasarealsocalledcomplexplasmas.[39]

Impermeableplasma
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Impermeableplasmaisatypeofthermalplasmawhichactslikeanimpermeablesolidwithrespecttogasor
coldplasmaandcanbephysicallypushed.Interactionofcoldgasandthermalplasmawasbrieflystudiedby
agroupledbyHannesAlfvnin1960sand1970sforitspossibleapplicationsininsulationoffusionplasma
fromthereactorwalls.[40]However,lateritwasfoundthattheexternalmagneticfieldsinthisconfiguration
couldinducekinkinstabilitiesintheplasmaandsubsequentlyleadtoanunexpectedlyhighheatlosstothe
walls.[41]In2013,agroupofmaterialsscientistsreportedthattheyhavesuccessfullygeneratedstable
impermeableplasmawithnomagneticconfinementusingonlyanultrahighpressureblanketofcoldgas.
Whilespectroscopicdataonthecharacteristicsofplasmawereclaimedtobedifficulttoobtainduetothe
highpressure,thepassiveeffectofplasmaonsynthesisofdifferentnanostructuresclearlysuggestedthe
effectiveconfinement.Theyalsoshowedthatuponmaintainingtheimpermeabilityforafewtensofseconds,
screeningofionsattheplasmagasinterfacecouldgiverisetoastrongsecondarymodeofheating(knownas
viscousheating)leadingtodifferentkineticsofreactionsandformationofcomplexnanomaterials.[42]

Mathematicaldescriptions
Mainarticle:Plasmamodeling
Tocompletelydescribethestateofaplasma,wewouldneedtowrite
downalltheparticlelocationsandvelocitiesanddescribethe
electromagneticfieldintheplasmaregion.However,itisgenerally
notpracticalornecessarytokeeptrackofalltheparticlesinaplasma.
Therefore,plasmaphysicistscommonlyuselessdetaileddescriptions,
ofwhichtherearetwomaintypes:

Fluidmodel
Fluidmodelsdescribeplasmasintermsofsmoothedquantities,like
densityandaveragedvelocityaroundeachposition(seePlasma
parameters).Onesimplefluidmodel,magnetohydrodynamics,treats
theplasmaasasinglefluidgovernedbyacombinationofMaxwell's
equationsandtheNavierStokesequations.Amoregeneral
descriptionisthetwofluidplasmapicture,wheretheionsand
electronsaredescribedseparately.Fluidmodelsareoftenaccurate
whencollisionalityissufficientlyhightokeeptheplasmavelocity
distributionclosetoaMaxwellBoltzmanndistribution.Becausefluid
modelsusuallydescribetheplasmaintermsofasingleflowata
certaintemperatureateachspatiallocation,theycanneithercapture
velocityspacestructureslikebeamsordoublelayers,norresolve
waveparticleeffects.

Thecomplexselfconstricting
magneticfieldlinesandcurrentpaths
inafieldalignedBirkelandcurrent
thatcandevelopinaplasma. [43]

Kineticmodel
Kineticmodelsdescribetheparticlevelocitydistributionfunctionateachpointintheplasmaandtherefore
donotneedtoassumeaMaxwellBoltzmanndistribution.Akineticdescriptionisoftennecessaryfor
collisionlessplasmas.Therearetwocommonapproachestokineticdescriptionofaplasma.Oneisbasedon
representingthesmootheddistributionfunctiononagridinvelocityandposition.Theother,knownasthe
particleincell(PIC)technique,includeskineticinformationbyfollowingthetrajectoriesofalargenumber
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ofindividualparticles.Kineticmodelsaregenerallymorecomputationallyintensivethanfluidmodels.The
Vlasovequationmaybeusedtodescribethedynamicsofasystemofchargedparticlesinteractingwithan
electromagneticfield.Inmagnetizedplasmas,agyrokineticapproachcansubstantiallyreducethe
computationalexpenseofafullykineticsimulation.

Artificialplasmas
Mostartificialplasmasaregeneratedbytheapplicationofelectricand/ormagneticfields.Plasmagenerated
inalaboratorysettingandforindustrialusecanbegenerallycategorizedby:
ThetypeofpowersourceusedtogeneratetheplasmaDC,RFandmicrowave
Thepressuretheyoperateatvacuumpressure(<10mTorror1Pa),moderatepressure(~1Torror
100Pa),atmosphericpressure(760Torror100kPa)
Thedegreeofionizationwithintheplasmafully,partially,orweaklyionized
Thetemperaturerelationshipswithintheplasmathermalplasma(
),nonthermalor
"cold"plasma(
)
Theelectrodeconfigurationusedtogeneratetheplasma
Themagnetizationoftheparticleswithintheplasmamagnetized(bothionandelectronsaretrapped
inLarmororbitsbythemagneticfield),partiallymagnetized(theelectronsbutnottheionsaretrapped
bythemagneticfield),nonmagnetized(themagneticfieldistooweaktotraptheparticlesinorbitsbut
maygenerateLorentzforces)
Theapplication.

Generationofartificialplasma
Justlikethemanyusesofplasma,thereareseveralmeansforits
generation,however,oneprincipleiscommontoallofthem:there
mustbeenergyinputtoproduceandsustainit.[44]Forthiscase,
plasmaisgeneratedwhenanelectriccurrentisappliedacrossa
dielectricgasorfluid(anelectricallynonconductingmaterial)ascan
beseenintheimagetotheright,whichshowsadischargetubeasa
simpleexample(DCusedforsimplicity).
Thepotentialdifferenceandsubsequentelectricfieldpullthebound
electrons(negative)towardtheanode(positiveelectrode)whilethe
cathode(negativeelectrode)pullsthenucleus.[45]Asthevoltage
increases,thecurrentstressesthematerial(byelectricpolarization)
beyonditsdielectriclimit(termedstrength)intoastageofelectrical
breakdown,markedbyanelectricspark,wherethematerial
transformsfrombeinganinsulatorintoaconductor(asitbecomes
increasinglyionized).TheunderlyingprocessistheTownsend
avalanche,wherecollisionsbetweenelectronsandneutralgasatoms
createmoreionsandelectrons(ascanbeseeninthefigureonthe
Artificialplasmaproducedinairbya
right).Thefirstimpactofanelectrononanatomresultsinoneion
Jacob'sLadder
andtwoelectrons.Therefore,thenumberofchargedparticles
increasesrapidly(inthemillions)only"afterabout20successivesets
ofcollisions",[46]mainlyduetoasmallmeanfreepath(averagedistancetravelledbetweencollisions).
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Electricarc
Withample
currentdensity
andionization,
thisformsa
luminouselectric
arc(acontinuous
electricdischarge
similarto
lightning)
betweenthe
electrodes.[Note1]
Avalancheeffectbetweentwoelectrodes.The
Electrical
originalionisationeventliberatesoneelectron,and
resistancealong
eachsubsequentcollisionliberatesafurther
thecontinuous
electron,sotwoelectronsemergefromeach
electricarccreates
Cascadeprocessofionization.
collision:theionisingelectronandtheliberated
heat,which
Electronsaree,neutralatomso,
electron.
dissociatesmore
andcations+.
gasmoleculesand
ionizesthe
resultingatoms(wheredegreeofionizationisdeterminedbytemperature),andasperthesequence:solid
liquidgasplasma,thegasisgraduallyturnedintoathermalplasma.[Note2]Athermalplasmaisinthermal
equilibrium,whichistosaythatthetemperatureisrelativelyhomogeneousthroughouttheheavyparticles
(i.e.atoms,moleculesandions)andelectrons.Thisissobecausewhenthermalplasmasaregenerated,
electricalenergyisgiventoelectrons,which,duetotheirgreatmobilityandlargenumbers,areableto
disperseitrapidlyandbyelasticcollision(withoutenergyloss)totheheavyparticles.[47][Note3]

Examplesofindustrial/commercialplasma
Becauseoftheirsizabletemperatureanddensityranges,plasmasfindapplicationsinmanyfieldsofresearch,
technologyandindustry.Forexample,in:industrialandextractivemetallurgy,[47]surfacetreatmentssuchas
plasmaspraying(coating),etchinginmicroelectronics,[48]metalcutting[49]andweldingaswellasin
everydayvehicleexhaustcleanupandfluorescent/luminescentlamps,[44]whileevenplayingapartin
supersoniccombustionenginesforaerospaceengineering.[50]
Lowpressuredischarges
Glowdischargeplasmas:nonthermalplasmasgeneratedbytheapplicationofDCorlowfrequency
RF(<100kHz)electricfieldtothegapbetweentwometalelectrodes.Probablythemostcommon
plasmathisisthetypeofplasmageneratedwithinfluorescentlighttubes.[51]
Capacitivelycoupledplasma(CCP):similartoglowdischargeplasmas,butgeneratedwithhigh
frequencyRFelectricfields,typically13.56MHz.Thesedifferfromglowdischargesinthatthe
sheathsaremuchlessintense.Thesearewidelyusedinthemicrofabricationandintegratedcircuit
manufacturingindustriesforplasmaetchingandplasmaenhancedchemicalvapordeposition.[52]
CascadedArcPlasmaSource:adevicetoproducelowtemperature(~1eV)highdensityplasmas
(HDP).
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Inductivelycoupledplasma(ICP):similartoaCCPandwithsimilarapplicationsbuttheelectrode
consistsofacoilwrappedaroundthechamberwhereplasmaisformed.[53]
Waveheatedplasma:similartoCCPandICPinthatitistypicallyRF(ormicrowave).Examples
includehelicondischargeandelectroncyclotronresonance(ECR).[54]
Atmosphericpressure
Arcdischarge:thisisahighpowerthermaldischargeofveryhightemperature(~10,000K).Itcanbe
generatedusingvariouspowersupplies.Itiscommonlyusedinmetallurgicalprocesses.Forexample,
itisusedtosmeltmineralscontainingAl2O3toproducealuminium.
Coronadischarge:thisisanonthermaldischargegeneratedbytheapplicationofhighvoltagetosharp
electrodetips.Itiscommonlyusedinozonegeneratorsandparticleprecipitators.
Dielectricbarrierdischarge(DBD):thisisanonthermaldischargegeneratedbytheapplicationof
highvoltagesacrosssmallgapswhereinanonconductingcoatingpreventsthetransitionoftheplasma
dischargeintoanarc.Itisoftenmislabeled'Corona'dischargeinindustryandhassimilarapplicationto
coronadischarges.Itisalsowidelyusedinthewebtreatmentoffabrics.[55]Theapplicationofthe
dischargetosyntheticfabricsandplasticsfunctionalizesthesurfaceandallowsforpaints,gluesand
similarmaterialstoadhere.[56]
Capacitivedischarge:thisisanonthermalplasmageneratedbytheapplicationofRFpower(e.g.,
13.56MHz)toonepoweredelectrode,withagroundedelectrodeheldatasmallseparationdistanceon
theorderof1cm.Suchdischargesarecommonlystabilizedusinganoblegassuchasheliumor
argon.[57]
"Piezoelectricdirectdischargeplasma:"isanonthermalplasmageneratedatthehighsideofa
piezoelectrictransformer(PT).Thisgenerationvariantisparticularlysuitedforhighefficientand
compactdeviceswhereaseparatehighvoltagepowersupplyisnotdesired.

History
PlasmawasfirstidentifiedinaCrookestube,andsodescribedbySirWilliamCrookesin1879(hecalledit
"radiantmatter").[58]ThenatureoftheCrookestube"cathoderay"matterwassubsequentlyidentifiedby
BritishphysicistSirJ.J.Thomsonin1897.[59]Theterm"plasma"wascoinedbyIrvingLangmuirin1928,[60]
perhapsbecausetheglowingdischargemoldsitselftotheshapeoftheCrookestube(Gr.athing
mouldedorformed).[61]Langmuirdescribedhisobservationsas:
Exceptneartheelectrodes,wheretherearesheathscontainingveryfewelectrons,theionized
gascontainsionsandelectronsinaboutequalnumberssothattheresultantspacechargeisvery
small.Weshallusethenameplasmatodescribethisregioncontainingbalancedchargesofions
andelectrons.[60]

Fieldsofactiveresearch
Thisisjustapartiallistoftopics.Seelistofplasma(physics)articles.Amorecompleteandorganizedlist
canbefoundonwebsitesonplasmascienceandtechnology.[62]

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Halleffectthruster.Theelectricfield
inaplasmadoublelayerisso
effectiveatacceleratingionsthat
electricfieldsareusediniondrives.

Plasmatheory
Plasmaequilibriaandstability
Plasmainteractionswithwavesand
beams
Guidingcenter
Adiabaticinvariant
Debyesheath
Coulombcollision
Plasmasinnature
TheEarth'sionosphere
Northernandsouthern(polar)lights
Spaceplasmas,e.g.Earth's
plasmasphere(aninnerportionof
themagnetospheredensewith
plasma)
Astrophysicalplasma
Interplanetarymedium
Industrialplasmas
Plasmachemistry
Plasmaprocessing
Plasmaspray
Plasmadisplay
Plasmasources
Dustyplasmas
Plasmadiagnostics
Thomsonscattering
Langmuirprobe
Ballpenprobe
Faradaycup
Spectroscopy
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plasma_(physics)

Plasmaapplications
Dielectricbarrierdischarge
Enhancedoilrecovery
Fusionpower
Magneticfusionenergy(MFE)
tokamak,stellarator,reversedfield
pinch,magneticmirror,denseplasma
focus
Inertialfusionenergy(IFE)(also
InertialconfinementfusionICF)
Plasmaweapon
Ionimplantation
Ionthruster
MAGPIE(shortforMegaAmpere
GeneratorforPlasmaImplosion
Experiments)
Plasmaashing
Foodprocessing(nonthermalplasma,aka
"coldplasma")
Plasmaarcwastedisposal,convertwaste
intoreusablematerialwithplasma.
Plasmaacceleration
Plasmamedicine(e.g.Dentistry[63])
Plasmawindow

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Interferometry
Ionosphericheating
Incoherentscatterradar

Solarplasma

Plasmaspraying

Seealso
Plasmatorch
Ambipolardiffusion
HannesAlfvnPrize
Plasmachannel
Plasmaparameters
Plasmanitriding
Magnetohydrodynamics(MHD)
Electricfieldscreening
Listofplasmaphysicists
Listofplasma(physics)articles
Importantpublicationsinplasmaphysics
IEEENuclearandPlasmaSciencesSociety
Quarkgluonplasma
NikolaTesla
Spacephysics
Totalelectroncontent

Notes
1. Thematerialundergoesvariousregimesorstages(e.g.saturation,breakdown,glow,transitionandthermalarc)
asthevoltageisincreasedunderthevoltagecurrentrelationship.Thevoltagerisestoitsmaximumvalueinthe
saturationstage,andthereafteritundergoesfluctuationsofthevariousstageswhilethecurrentprogressively
increasesthroughout.[46]
2. Acrossliterature,thereappearstobenostrictdefinitiononwheretheboundaryisbetweenagasandplasma.
Nevertheless,itisenoughtosaythatat2,000Cthegasmoleculesbecomeatomized,andionizedat3,000Cand
"inthisstate,[the]gashasaliquidlikeviscosityatatmosphericpressureandthefreeelectricchargesconfer
relativelyhighelectricalconductivitiesthatcanapproachthoseofmetals."[47]
3. Notethatnonthermal,ornonequilibriumplasmasarenotasionizedandhavelowerenergydensities,andthusthe
temperatureisnotdispersedevenlyamongtheparticles,wheresomeheavyonesremaincold.

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Plasma(physics)Wikipedia,thefreeencyclopedia

62. WebsiteforPlasmascienceandtechnology(http://www.plasmas.com/topics.htm)
63. "Hightechdentistry"StElmo'sfrier"Usingaplasmatorchtocleanyourteeth"
(http://www.economist.com/displaystory.cfm?story_id=13794903&fsrc=rss).TheEconomistprintedition.Jun17,
2009.Retrieved20090907.

Externallinks
Freeplasmaphysicsbooksandnotes(http://www.freebookcentre.net/Physics/PlasmaPhysics
Books.html)
Plasmas:theFourthStateofMatter
(http://fusedweb.pppl.gov/CPEP/Chart_Pages/5.Plasma4StateMatter.html)
PlasmaScienceandTechnology(http://www.plasmas.org/)
PlasmaontheInternet(http://plasmagate.weizmann.ac.il/directories/plasmaontheinternet/)alist
ofplasmarelatedlinks.
IntroductiontoPlasmaPhysics:GraduatecoursegivenbyRichardFitzpatrick
(http://farside.ph.utexas.edu/teaching/plasma/lectures/lectures.html)|M.I.T.Introductionby
I.H.Hutchinson(http://silas.psfc.mit.edu/introplasma/index.html)
PlasmaMaterialInteraction(http://starfire.ne.uiuc.edu/)
Howtomakeaglowingballofplasmainyourmicrowavewithagrape
(http://c3po.barnesos.net/homepage/lpl/grapeplasma/)|More(Video)(http://stewdio.org/plasma/)
Howtomakeplasmainyourmicrowavewithonlyonematch(video)
(http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=6732382807079775486&hl=en)
OpenPIC3D3DHybridParticleInCellsimulationofplasmadynamics(http://comphys.narod.ru)
PlasmaFormularyInteractive(http://plasmagate.weizmann.ac.il/pf/)
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