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Can any element be in the plasma state?
Question Date: 2018-10-30
Answer 1:

A material is said to be in the plasma state when electrons are able to move freely between atoms in gas phase instead of being local , or “stuck around” one atom. This is usually achieved by heating the material to high temperatures.

Generally, the thermal energy (the energy from heat) must be higher than what is called the ionization energy for the material to become plasma. The ionization energy is the amount of energy needed to remove an electron from an atom of the material, and it is different for every element.

So theoretically, any element could be in the plasma state if you could get it to the temperature where the thermal energy is more than the ionization energy. However, in practice some elements have very high ionization energies which would make nearly impossible to make into plasma.


Answer 2:

A plasma is essentially a gas that is made of charged particles, whereas the typical gas phases comprises neutral particles. As long as you can put sufficient energy into an element to remove the electrons from the atoms (or molecules), you can make a plasma from a substance. For example, you can make plasma from a grape (if attempting, use proper supervision/protection) by burning the skin and heating the molecules.

Forming a plasma is not always just a matter of heating the gas until the electrons come off though. In particular, both temperature and pressure affect the stable phase of a substance, as expressed through phase diagrams . For example, water transitions from a solid to a liquid to a gas upon heating at standard 1 atmosphere of pressure, but water can form more than 10 phases depending on the temperature/pressure combination, and CO2 transitions directly from solid to gas ("dry ice"). So to make the plasma, you might also have to increase or decrease the pressure.


Answer 3:

Yes, any element could be in a plasma state. The typical states of any element are solid, liquid, and gas. If a gas is heated past this point, it will eventually become a plasma, which is basically a gas that conducts electricity. So, at high enough temperatures, any element could behave as a plasma.


Answer 4:

Yes, all elements can be ionized to become plasmas.



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