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Plasma Physicists


Many people are familiar with solids, liquids, and gases (i.e., states of matter). But not as many know about plasma, which is often called the “Fourth State of Matter.” Physics Today defines plasma as “a partially ionized gas in which a certain proportion of electrons are free rather than being bound to an atom or molecule. The ability of the positive and negative charges to move somewhat independently makes the plasma electrically conductive.” It’s estimated that plasmas constitute more than 99 percent of the visible universe. They occur naturally in stars and interplanetary space and artificially in products such as fluorescent lights and neon signs. They are also used in applications such as the processing of semiconductors, medical product sterilization, and pollution control and removal of hazardous chemicals. Plasma physicists conduct research on natural and artificial plasmas in order to better understand them and develop practical applications of plasmas for energy, national security, manufacturing, medicine, and agriculture. They have interdisciplinary backgrounds in physics and other science specialties, engineering, mathematics, computational science, and additional areas. Plasma physicists may also be known as experimental plasma physicists, theoretical plasma physicists, and applied plasma physicists.

Salary Range

$75,000 to $100,000+

Minimum Education Level

Master's Degree




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Research Director, Consultant, or Professor


Plasma Physicist