Oct 192009

I’ve decided to demonstrate the easiest way yet to produce microwave oven plasma. In 2004 I discovered that carbon fiber in the form of veil is the easiest and most reliable material with which to initiate a plasma in a microwave oven.

Step 1. Obtain a sample of carbon fiber in the form of veil. This is a non-woven form of carbon fiber, and resembles a drier sheet in texture. If you can’t buy this locally various online suppliers should stock it. Next, impale a small (say 4cm by 3cm) rectangle of veil onto a bamboo skewer. You will need to cut the skewer to the length described in step two. Second hand glass flower jars are commonly available for sale at places like Goodwill for just a few dollars.

Step 2. Cut the bamboo to a length such that it will sit inside an upturned glass flower vase as seen in the next photo. This holds the carbon fiber veil sample above the bottom of the oven. If the sample were resting on the bottom it would ark and potentially damage the oven. An effective tool for cutting the bamboo skewer is a diagonal wire cutters.

Step 3. Remove the revolving glass plate and supporting lazy Susan from your microwave oven. Place the upturned glass vase into the oven, preferably an oven that has more than a thousand watts of power.

Step 4. Turn on the oven. Don’t let the oven run for more than a few seconds. Even at that, the glass can get very hot. Let it cool, or wear oven mitts to touch it. It may break unexpectedly, especially after repeated use. Thankfully glass flower jars are inexpensive, and it’s worthwhile to buy more than one for experimentation.

Here is my YouTube video of a carbon fiber veil plasma in action.

 Posted by on 10/19/2009 Science

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