SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Nitrogen gas, electric discharge plasma. The sample of nitrogen gas is contained in a borosilicate vial, around which is wrapped silver-coated copper wires. A high-voltage electric current (35 milliamps at 2000 volts) is passed across the wires, producing the electric discharge plasma and glow seen here. The nature of this discharge varies depending on the element contained in the vial. This is the basis of the technology found in neon lamps and plasma screens.
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