Plasma (physics)


Plasma (physics)
Plasma is a form of matter where the atoms are broken into pieces. The pieces are called electrons and ions. Because these pieces have an electric charge, they are pulled together or pushed apart by electric fields and magnetic fields. This makes a plasma act different from a gas, which is another form of matter. For example, magnetic fields can be used to hold a plasma, but not to hold a gas.
Plasmas are usually very hot, because it takes high temperature to break the bonds between the electrons and the nuclei. Sometimes plasmas can have very high pressure, like in stars. Stars (including our own Sun) are mostly made of plasma. Plasmas can also have very low pressure, like in outer space.
On Earth, natural plasma makes lightning and auroras. Artificial (man-made) uses of plasma include fluorescent lightbulbs, "neon" signs, and plasma displays used for television or computer screens. Scientists are experimenting with plasma to make a new kind of nuclear power, called fusion, which would be much better and safer than ordinary nuclear power, and would produce much less radioactive wasteâ€'maybe none at all!


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