Who invented the plasma ball?

The science of the plasma ball

Plasma balls show a spectacular phenomenon, but what is actually behind it? In this article we want to get to the bottom of the mystery and understand how a plasma ball works.

The plasma lamp was invented in 1892 by Nikola Tesla, to whom we also owe the alternating current. However, it only became really known later, probably most in Germany through the program “Kopfball”, which ended up with a plasma ball as the winner's prize.

In America, the technology was best known through the Exploratorium in San Francisco. The focus of the museum is on teaching natural sciences. The interactive concept is particularly suitable for children and young people. Incidentally, the world's largest plasma ball is in the Swiss Science Center in Switzerland.

They are available in many different variations - from plasma balls to LampeDon to plasma discs. But the functionality always remains the same in the end. In the glass sphere there is a mixture of neon, nitrogen and argon under low pressure.

Together with an oscillator circuit, the transformer generates the necessary alternating current. There is also an electrode in the center of the plasma ball. When the device is switched on, the electrons and ions contained in the gas are accelerated. The fast particles generate friction, which in turn creates the beautiful, optical effect of a plasma lamp. The electrode ensures that the light strips are evenly divided.

If you also want to familiarize yourself with the physical details, you will find further information here.