Plasmas are generally thought of an ionized gases, which are conductive and can respond to electric and magnetic fields. However, I was just wondering if it is possible (in theory or in practice) to have a 'liquid' plasma? Presumably, it should be possible to ionize a liquid?

If not, then why is this not possible?


One of the comments suggests that the interior of the sun may be a possible candidate, due to the high density. However, I am wondering, on a more basic level, could I take some sort of liquid at room temperature and ionize it in a lab until it started to behave like a plasma? Is it possible to 'bulk ionize' a liquid to that extent?

  • $\begingroup$ What is a liquid plasma? High density? Like the interior of the Sun? $\endgroup$ – Pieter Oct 22 '18 at 21:23
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    $\begingroup$ @Pieter I guess what I'm thinking of is something with a higher mass density than a gas; that starts out as a non-ionized liquid; and where the bulk 'fluid flow' behaves more like a liquid than a gas (i.e. incompressible). For example, it might fall under gravity in a similar way to a liquid (as it would be denser than the surrounding air/gas and therefore lack buoyancy). $\endgroup$ – Time4Tea Oct 22 '18 at 21:38
  • $\begingroup$ @Pieter The interior of the sun might be a candidate in the natural world. However, I am wondering if i could just take a liquid in a lab at room temperature and ionize it to the point where it behaves like a plasma. I'll add that to my question, to clarify. $\endgroup$ – Time4Tea Oct 22 '18 at 21:44
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    $\begingroup$ What about a molten salt? $\endgroup$ – probably_someone Oct 23 '18 at 9:21

If you strip electrons from a liquid and then mix them with the cations they will recombine but it is possible to prevent it by heating it to high temperatures, enough to convert the liquid into a gas.

Ionic liquids are similar to plasmas because they are composed by cations but they do not have electrons, they have anions.

every ionic compound like the NaCl will become a a ionic liquid when melted, ionic liquids conduct elecricity and have electric field screening like plasmas


Depends on what you mean by 'liquid'

Liquids, by definition are a different state of matter than plasmas.

If you mean a high density plasma, I see no reason why a plasma can't have a density on the order of 1 g/cc.

If you mean a high conductivity liquid, yes, these exists.

There are also ionic liquids which are another name for molten salts.

  • $\begingroup$ Quark gluon plasma? $\endgroup$ – Declan Oct 22 '18 at 22:58
  • $\begingroup$ From Wikipedia, The strength of the color force means that unlike the gas-like plasma, quark–gluon plasma behaves as a near-ideal Fermi liquid... $\endgroup$ – Declan Oct 22 '18 at 23:06

It is not possible to bulk ionize some liquid substance to produce a plasma at ambient pressure. The temperatures required to produce the plasma are greater than the vaporization temperatures of anything we have on hand- so, the stuff vaporizes before it ionizes.

At the center of the sun, the density of the plasma is of order ~150 grams/cc which is 150 x the density of water, but since there is nothing you could possibly make a pipe or bucket out of that could withstand the temperature there, the "liquidness" of that substance can only be inferred by studying the transmission of pressure waves around the insides of the sun. This is called helioseismology and the results from that field indicate that the sun's core behaves like an ideal gas under tremendous pressure.

  • $\begingroup$ But I read in that Wikipedia article that, in some plasmas, the temperature of the electrons can be very hot, whilst the ions can be at near-room temperature. Is it not possible for the ions to form a liquid whilst the electrons are hotter? $\endgroup$ – Time4Tea Oct 23 '18 at 0:38
  • $\begingroup$ I do not know. But this area of research is one where entire books have been written about it- time for you then to consult an expert!. $\endgroup$ – niels nielsen Oct 23 '18 at 0:39
  • $\begingroup$ Your first paragraph is confusing. Do you mean it's not possible to bulk ionize substances at ambient pressure or temperature? $\endgroup$ – Al Nejati Oct 23 '18 at 3:23
  • $\begingroup$ ambient pressure. $\endgroup$ – niels nielsen Oct 23 '18 at 3:56
  • $\begingroup$ Then perhaps you could expand that statement a bit because many kinds of lamps, cutting machines, etc. generate 'bulk plasma' at a wide range of pressures, including lower, equal, and greater than ambient. $\endgroup$ – Al Nejati Oct 23 '18 at 5:39

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