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

What happens to neutrons in plasma state?

  1. Nov 8, 2015 #1
    Let's say we have a mol of hellium-3 and we heat it up until it becomes plasma.
    What happens to the neutrons? Wikipedia does not mention anything about them. It only says that "Plasma is loosely described as an electrically neutral medium of unbound positive and negative particles".

    Just to make sure...
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 8, 2015 #2


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor

    I think you missed something. When you heat up the gas, depending on the temperature, all you're doing is stripping one or more electrons from the neutral atoms. You are not disassociating the nucleus. That remains intact.

  4. Nov 8, 2015 #3
    Plasmas consist of ions and electrons. Many times we just have a hydrogen plasma so there aren't very many neutrons in there. If it's a heavier gas, the neutrons are still stuck to the protons in the nucleus via nuclear forces even after the electrons are stripped away. In something like a tokamak or solar plasmas, you can have neutrons flying around that are produced by fusion reactions. They are unaffected by the electromagnetic field and generally fly in straight lines until they hit a wall and melt your tokamak.
  5. Nov 8, 2015 #4


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor

    Any neutron produced in a fusion plasma will simply leave the plasma and be absorbed by the surrounding structure. As ZapperZ indicated, neutrons bound in a nucleus stay in the nucleus, unless the nucleus collides with another nucleus with sufficient energy to cause a fusion reaction, or a spallation reaction.

    Where matter (as opposed to anti-matter) is concerned, e.g., a hydrogen/helium plasma, the positive particles are nuclei (or ions if Z>1 and partially ionized), and the negative particles are electrons. They try to recombine, and if they do, they can leak out of the plasma unless they are ionized again.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Similar Threads for happens neutrons plasma
I Hydrogen plasma compression with liquid Mercury piston