When I tell you that my research is based on plasma, the question that immediately pops up in your mind is – O! Do your research on plasma TVs? Funnily, this question always makes me growl a bit in my hearts of hearts. I have studied Plasma Physics for about five years and Plasma science still amazes me.
Amazingly, 99% of the observable matter in the universe is in the form of plasma. Yes, that’s true. Plasma is the major constituent of all-stars including our Sun. Plasma is present in the ionosphere of Earth as well as the solar wind that emanates from the Sun towards the Earth and other planets. The rings of Saturn also constitute plasma. Lightning during a thunderstorm is a plasma too. The beautiful aurora lights are also a plasma phenomenon. This was just about outer Earth and space. It may be surprising if I tell you that not just the plasma TV, but the fluorescent tube lights in our homes and offices also contain Plasma. In fact, the flame of a candle is a plasma. But these are just the simpler ones, let’s delve a little deeper to know the world of those sophisticated technologies that harness the science of plasmas.
Before moving ahead, we need to have an idea what is plasma? Well, we all know about gases. A gas that comprises of charged and neutral particles is a plasma. Now, let us know about the various technologies associated with this fourth state of matter that never ceases to amaze and interest the researchers.
Nuclear Fusion- ITER: Plasma science may find a permanent solution to the booming energy requirements. We all hear a lot about the increasing energy needs and the global warming caused by harnessing those energy sources that we use now. ITER (International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor ) is a mega project that may help curb all our future energy requirements. It is an experimental reactor that will carry out nuclear fusion by confining the plasma. This project shall be completed by 2025. After completion, this machine will be like ten floors high building which is the most expensive buildings of 2019. There are seven countries that are part of this ITER project including India and a lot of plasma science lays the foundation of this amazing project. Interesting, right? Well, we still have a lot more to know.
The low-temperature plasma has potent applications for treating cancer. Plasma oncology is a new field of medicine. The cold plasma particles can strike cancerous tumors and kill malignant cancer cells. Massive research is going on in this field and it shows promising applications in the field of cancer treatment. In the coming years, plasma treatment may be used as a primary medicine for cancer treatment.
Not only this, Plasma has applications for efficient waste treatment technology. Use of Plasma incinerators can reduce harmful waste into non-toxic gases like Hydrogen and Carbon dioxide. In Japan, two plasma converters are already converting 200 tons of waste per day into gaseous form. This technology is currently developing in Italy, Spain, and other European countries. There are some companies in North America that produce plasma converters having mobile and stationary capabilities. Plasma treatments have applications in the textile industry for treating fibers and textiles to obtain their desired characteristics. Angora wool treated by plasma has increases coarseness so that it can be easily woven into the fabric.
Plasma technology has applications in the textile industry, material sciences, nuclear fusion, waste management, coating of materials, dentistry, cancer treatment and much more. Yes, plasma TV is one of these too. Other than these, plasmas naturally occur in most of the space and astrophysical environments. I have just given a brief overview of the beauties of plasma science and technology. Studying plasma physics is fun after knowing the various applications of it. I hope that some of my future audiences or friends may now be aware of the beauty of my field of research, i.e., Plasma Physics.
The author has just completed her Ph.D. from Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar, India in the field of Theoretical Plasma Physics and is an author and editor at the blog – https://secretsofuniverse.in/