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Demonstrations And Experiments In Plasma Physics

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2005 Annual Conference


Portland, Oregon

Publication Date

June 12, 2005

Start Date

June 12, 2005

End Date

June 15, 2005



Conference Session

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.397.1 - 10.397.9

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Paper Authors

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David Hata

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 1526

Demonstrations and Experiments in Plasma Physics

David M. Hata Portland Community College


Portland Community College, through a grant from the Advanced Technological Education Program at the National Science Foundation, has implemented a suite of demonstrations and experiments in plasma physics. These activities, which focus on the optical and electrical characteristics of gas plasmas, have been classroom-tested at Portland Community College in PCC’s associate of applied science degree program in Microelectronics Technology.

The demonstrations and experiment range from low-cost experiments based on NE-2 neon bulbs to more sophisticated studies using fiberoptic spectrometers and Langmuir probes. This paper will describe experimental activities in plasma physics and describe how these activities are integrated into a technician-level course in RF Plasma Systems.


For the purpose of this paper, “plasma” refers to an ionized gas. It is often referred to as the “fourth state of matter.” In this state of matter, plasmas exist when enough energy is supplied to a gas to sustain the continuous creation of positively charged and free electrons. It is the creation of charged particles that makes the plasma useful in manufacturing processes, e.g. etching, sputtering, and deposition.

Plasma technology is one of several enabling technologies that makes manufacturing at the nanoscale possible today. It is absolutely essential in the manufacture of integrated circuits as well as a variety of surface coating applications.

We benefit from gas plasmas everyday. Gas plasmas produce the visible light in our universe, including our sun. In our offices, fluorescent lighting is based on producing a gas plasma within a coated glass tube. We seldom think of the variety of materials coated by a plasma deposition process, e.g. our eyeglasses with anti-reflective coatings.

Gas plasmas are briefly mentioned in chemistry courses, but students enrolling in engineering technology programs lack an understanding of gas plasmas. The laboratory activities described in this paper are designed to provide a basic understanding of the electrical and optical properties of gas plasmas. They range from inexpensive demonstrations and experiments to more sophisticated studies using a Langmuir Probe.

“Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright 2005, American Society for Engineering Education”

Hata, D. (2005, June), Demonstrations And Experiments In Plasma Physics Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon.

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