MadSci Network: Chemistry

Re: Can metals be gases?

Date: Mon Nov 23 13:39:29 1998
Posted By: Rick Cousins, Regional Mgr/Chemist-Industry
Area of science: Chemistry
ID: 911744823.Ch

I hope this will get close to the answer you want. The 'electron sea' that is commonly pictured for metals explains their thermal and electrical conductivities. Actual metals gases are rarely seen but the electronics industry does use a technique, inelegantly known as 'sputtering' where a metal alloy is vaporized in a vacuum chamber, to produce coatings.

Plasmas of other materials, especially gases, can be found in many labs as are routine occurence. ICP, or inductively-couple plasma spectrometers are used to determine the elements present in samples. A small amount of Argon is electrically excited and the sample introduced into the resulting plasma.

A plasma of any material, to my first approximation (and you may want to ask others) is possible given an high enough temperature. The resulting mix wwould contain ions, neutral atoms, and free electrons. All interacting as they collided, providing you had some way to contain the plasma. If you check under 'pinched fusion reactors' or nuclear fusion in general, you can learn more about magnetic bottles and other plasma containers.‰

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