9C40.68/10A05.25 - Baby Plasma Cutter

Code Number:
Demo Title:
Baby Plasma Cutter
Plasma and Plasma Tubes
Area of Study:
Electricity and Magnetism
Clear Box, Large Rubber Band, 9 volt battery, Pencil Leads, and Aluminum Foil.

See also 9C40.68 in Facilities Support.

Stretch the aluminum foil over the clear box and secure in place using the large rubber band.  Connect the negative lead of the 9 volt battery to one corner of the aluminum foil and place a pencil lead in the clip of the positive lead.  Touch the pencil lead to the aluminum foil and it should vaporize the foil at that point.  Try to cut your name in the foil.

CAUTION: The pencil lead will get very hot when doing this demonstration.  DO NOT TOUCH.

  • Dan MacIsaac, "Baby Plasma Cutter", TPT, Vol. 54, #4, Apr. 2016, p. 254.
  • Kevin Dupzyk, "Plasma Cutter", Popular Mechanics, Vol. 193, #4, June 2016, p. 22.

Disclaimer: These demonstrations are provided only for illustrative use by persons affiliated with The University of Iowa and only under the direction of a trained instructor or physicist.  The University of Iowa is not responsible for demonstrations performed by those using their own equipment or who choose to use this reference material for their own purpose.  The demonstrations included here are within the public domain and can be found in materials contained in libraries, bookstores, and through electronic sources.  Performing all or any portion of any of these demonstrations, with or without revisions not depicted here entails inherent risks.  These risks include, without limitation, bodily injury (and possibly death), including risks to health that may be temporary or permanent and that may exacerbate a pre-existing medical condition; and property loss or damage.  Anyone performing any part of these demonstrations, even with revisions, knowingly and voluntarily assumes all risks associated with them.