The fourth state of matter in the universe is called “plasma.” It can be created in the laboratory by breaking down gases, the third state of matter, using extreme voltage. A lightning strike is plasma created by nature. Laboratory-generated plasmas, under ordinary conditions, are hard to control. However, thanks to the work of electrical engineering graduate student Olutosin Fawole, of professor Masood Tabib-Azar’s group, a new device forces plasma, when placed around a magnet, to rotate around a center point. This device has enormous potential impact for science since a magnetic-field sensor can detect subtle electric currents. The ingenuity of this work, Olutosin said, is its feature as “a new device that enables plasma to be used as a magnetic field sensor.” If this device is made a billion times more sensitive, it could enable detection of electricity in human brains. This device is the first of its kind and is a major step in both rearing plasma for experiments and discovering ways to track the elusive signals of the human brain.
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