What happens in Plasma when ions and electrons collide? I know that Plasma is when you have a soup of electrons and ions, which results from a gas being stripped from its electrons. My thinking now would be that an electron bumping into an ion would result in the opposite: the plasma would become a regular gas again. But I am not sure because even cold plasma is extremely hot, and if the temperature of a gas is high enough, the gas gets stripped of its electrons. I hope that somebody can help me with this confusion.

Additionally, I know that with magnetic confinement of plasma, the electrons and ions get separated as they have a different Larmor radius, so them bumping into each other is no concern.


1 Answer 1


As you suspect, a plasma must be at a high enough temperature for electrons to be stripped off atoms. Yes, they can recombine. But very soon a violent collision with a neighbor will knock the electron off again.

  • $\begingroup$ So in a "cloud" of plasma you basically have a constant state of recombination and ionization? $\endgroup$
    – Spaceiac
    Commented Dec 19, 2021 at 1:45
  • $\begingroup$ Right. With a high fraction ionized. $\endgroup$
    – mmesser314
    Commented Dec 19, 2021 at 1:51
  • $\begingroup$ Or you could have the electron whiz by with high enough energy that it doesn't recombine with the ion. $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 21, 2021 at 13:19

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