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Capturing plasma in a syringe

In this video, an electrical current is causing the metal nail to heat up the air inside of the syringe, which in turn causes plasma to form as the plunger on the syringe is pulled back.

The syringe is sealed, so as the plunger is pulled back the pressure inside drops. This lower pressure volume causes a chain reaction to start where a small number of initial ions smash into their neighbors with enough energy to cause those neighbors to throw off more ions, which in turn smash into more neighbors, and so on, eventually causing all of the gas inside the syringe to be ionized.

The ions smashing together creates the visible light effect – without the lower pressure and chain reaction, there wouldn’t be enough light for a human eye to detect.

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