Nikola Tesla invented a plasma lamp in 1894 February 6. The patent he registered was for one of the first high-intensity discharge lamps. Tesla used an incandescent-type lamp globe with a single internal conductive element and excited the element with high-voltage currents from a Tesla coil, thus creating the brush discharge emanation. He gained patent protection on a particular form of the lamp in which a light-giving small body or button of refractory material is supported by a conductor entering a very highly exhausted globe or receiver.
Many years later, the technology needed to formulate gas mixtures used in today’s plasma spheres was not available to Tesla at that time. Modern lamps typically use combinations of xenon, krypton and neon, although other gases can be used as well. These gas mixtures, along with different glass shapes and integrated-circuit-driven electronics, create the vivid colors, range of motions and complex patterns seen in today’s plasma Ball.
The plasma ball operates when voltage is introduced in the miniature Plasma Ball 3.5 Inch and creates an electric field inside the ball. As the electrode is negatively charged, the escaping electrons are introduced into the larger glass ball, where they interact with positively charged ions floating around inside. A concurrent oscillating voltage is introduced, changing the electric field and the path of the electrons, resulting in the tentacles – which, at this point, are invisible – that strike the inside of the larger glass ball.
Safety With a Plasma Ball
A plasma ball is a high-voltage electrical device and should be used with caution. The frequencies it emits may interfere with cell phones, Wi-Fi and cordless phones. Because the plasma ball emits electromagnetic radiation, it can interfere with pacemakers. All care should be taken if trying to use the plasma ball to create burning or fire effects, and nothing flammable should be left in contact with the plasma ball.