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What if we created plasma that ionizes at room temperature?

  1. Nov 1, 2011 #1
    I was wondering if we could create some gaseous matter whose ionization energy is very low, so it can be fully ionized under room temperature, thus converted in plasma.

    I know that plasma loses energy quickly by radiation, if we could harness this radiated energy, won't this violate the second law of thermodynamics?

    I then thought that the radiated energy may be re-absorbed by other non ionized atoms, but if the ionization energy was law enough, the number of ionized matter would be much more than non ionized, and so it can keep radiating at room temperature. I don't know how thermal equilibrium is achieved here.

    Assuming the existence of such a kind of matter is far from true, but I want to know what exactly defends the second law in that case?
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 1, 2011 #2


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    You can ionize air at room temperature and atmospheric pressure. Look up dielectric barrier discharge. It is a non-thermal plasma.
  4. Nov 1, 2011 #3
    the case you are mentioning requires a high voltage input,

    I'm talking about a different case, the ionization here takes place due to the thermal energy of atmospheric molecules, there is no energy input required but the ambient temperature.
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