Science, Tech, Math › Science Plasma Ball and Fluorescent Light Experiment Share Flipboard Email Print Science Chemistry Projects & Experiments Basics Chemical Laws Molecules Periodic Table Scientific Method Biochemistry Physical Chemistry Medical Chemistry Chemistry In Everyday Life Famous Chemists Activities for Kids Abbreviations & Acronyms Biology Physics Geology Astronomy Weather & Climate By Anne Marie Helmenstine, Ph.D. Chemistry Expert Ph.D., Biomedical Sciences, University of Tennessee at Knoxville B.A., Physics and Mathematics, Hastings College Dr. Helmenstine holds a Ph.D. in biomedical sciences and is a science writer, educator, and consultant. She has taught science courses at the high school, college, and graduate levels. our editorial process Facebook Facebook Twitter Twitter Anne Marie Helmenstine, Ph.D. Updated February 05, 2020 You can perform an interesting science experiment using a plasma ball and a fluorescent light bulb. The fluorescent bulb will light up as you bring it near the plasma ball. Control the light using your hand, so only part of it is illuminated. Here is what you do and why it works. Materials ThoughtCo / Anne Helmenstine Here are the materials you will need for the experiment: Plasma ballFluorescent light bulb (any type) Steps for the Experiment Turn on the plasma ball.Bring the fluorescent bulb close to the plasma ball. As you near the plasma, the bulb will light up.If you are using a long fluorescent stick, you can control how much of the bulb is lit using your hand. The portion of the bulb close to the plasma ball will remain lit, while the outer portion will stay dark. You can see evanescence or fading of the light as you pull the light further from the plasma ball. How it Works A plasma ball is a sealed glass containing low-pressure noble gases. A high voltage electrode sits in the center of the ball, connected to the power source. When the ball is turned on, electrical current ionizes the gas in the ball, creating plasma. When you touch the surface of the plasma ball, you can see the path of the plasma filaments running between the electrode and the insulating glass shell. Although you cannot see it, the high-frequency current extends beyond the surface of the ball. When you bring a fluorescent tube near the ball, the same energy excites the mercury atoms in the fluorescent bulb. The excited atoms emit ultraviolet light that is absorbed into the phosphor coating inside the fluorescent light, converting the ultraviolet light into visible light.