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  • Writer's pictureKristjan Salev


Updated: Jan 8, 2023

A plasma ball is an awesome gadget that creates a fabulous light show and a magical atmosphere. But how does this gadget work?

Let us start with the matter. There are four natural states of matter: solids, liquids, gases, and plasma. Everyone is probably familiar with the first three of them. The plasma state, however, is the most abundant state of matter in the universe. 99,9 % of matter in the universe is plasma. Plasma has no fixed shape and volume like gases and has a lower density than liquids and solids. Unlike gases and solids, plasma is made up of atoms in which electrons have been stripped away from the nucleus of an atom. The electrons have a negative charge, and the nucleus has a positive charge.

So plasma is nothing more than a gas in which electrons and the nucleus of atoms are separated, containing roughly equal numbers of positively and negatively charged particles.

In the center of the ball is located a Tesla coil. Tesla coil can generate a strong electric field. That electric field has quite high energy, and this is the reason why gas inside the globe gets ionized - electrons are been ripped off the atoms of the gas. If gas gets ionized, it conducts electricity. That is also how lightning is produced - the air gets ionized and conducts electricity. Electrons always want to move from high potential to low potential. So if You touch the ball with your finger, You create a little bolt of lightning from the electrode to your finger, and electrons can move to a lower potential place - into the ground.

But what creates the light inside the plasma ball?

When the plasma ball is turned off, and the electric field is not present, the gases inside the ball are in the normal gaseous state. That means the nucleus of the atom and electrons are combined. When plasma is created, and electrons get separated from the nucleus they want spontaneously combine with the positively charged nucleus.

That is more energy efficient for electrons to exist - orbiting around the nucleus. When that happens, energy is produced in the form of light, because they lose that extra energy, which rips them off the nucleus in the first place. Inert gases used in plasma balls include neon, argon, and xenon. All these gases are producing that colorful light.

Plasma Balls come in a variety of different sizes, but they are usually 3, 6, 7, and 8 inches in diameter.

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