MadSci Network: Physics

Re: If you pass micro and radio waves through an ionized gas,

Date: Sun Dec 16 09:49:47 2001
Posted By: Edward Peterson, Staff, Chemical Engineering, S&B Engineers and Constructors
Area of science: Physics
ID: 1007866057.Ph

Microwaves interact with ions in a plasma or flame.  Something to research 
here would be the way particle accelerators work.  After a plasma is 
produced, the microwaves accelerate the electrons or positive ions, 
depending on the nature of the electromagnetic field that is imposed.  If 
you want to accelerate the electrons and make a MASER, you pick the 
direction of the microwave field that would accelerate the electrons best.

If you build up a microwave field in a plasma, you will energize many or 
few of the electrons. The plamsa will become hotter, as the already free 
electrons will propagate higher energy levels.  Some may escape the local 
environment, but the charged ions will thereafter interact with neutrally 
matter and gain back their electrons when the opportunity presents itself.

You asked if the plasma would lose its ion charge?  That is unlikely since 
adding energy to an energy absorptive media tends to create matter of 
higher energy state.  To netralize a plasma, the plasma ion must either 
lose a protron or gain an electron.  To gain an electron, the "free 
electron" is returned to the ion by turning off the microwave energy.  
Microwave energy does not have the quantum energy to affect the nucleus of 
a protron.  To do that, you need high energy x-rays.  Microwave energy has 
less quantum energy than normal visible light.

If you have a specific question of wish to explore this topic further, you 
can e-mail me at

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