Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Microwave Induced Plasma

  1. Jul 7, 2015 #1
    Hello,

    Microwaves are classified as non-ionizing radiation, so my question is, how do microwaves separate atoms into positive ions and electrons? I've heard of multi-photon ionization, is this what happens?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 7, 2015 #2
    Non-ionizing means what it says.
    Microwaves do not ionize atoms.
    They have sufficient energy to excite electrons, but not enough energy to disassociate the electron from the atom it is a part of.
    More energetic radiation, such as X-rays can do that.
     
  4. Jul 7, 2015 #3

    Drakkith

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Each individual microwave photon has too little energy to ionize atoms, but a LOT of microwave photons can heat materials up high enough to possibly generate a plasma.
     
  5. Jul 7, 2015 #4
    True, but if we define plasma as that, then a candle flame is plasma.
    Nothing nuclear going on there.
     
  6. Jul 7, 2015 #5

    Drakkith

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Nothing nuclear needs to be going on at all in order to have a plasma. The material just needs to be ionized.
     
  7. Jul 7, 2015 #6
    Okay, thanks.
     
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook