How to ionize a lightbulb?

I need to ionize the air in a lightbulb. Nothing dangerous please like microwaves or radioactive materials.

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kelseymh7 years ago
Why? Ioniziation requires substantial energy input, and therefore requires something dangerous -- whether it's high voltage, microwaves, X-rays, or particle radiation.
Yep. See, for example, https://www.instructables.com/id/Maker-your-own-Lightning-Globe!/

If you tell us what you're actually trying to accomplish, rather than just asking us about one detail, we might be able to offer more useful advice.
joespicnictables (author)  orksecurity7 years ago
I'm going to try to make a geiger counter out of it, but i don't have any radioactive materials (besides the fire detector :P).
Interesting project. How much research on Geiger-Muller counters have you done? As Ork* said, they don't work by being pre-ionized; they detect the ionization which results when charged particles pass through them.

I'm not sure your idea will work, though I'm also not sure it won't! How are you planning to ground the bulb? Typically G-M counters use a metal tube to provide the ground plane, with the HV pickup wire down the center.

Calculating the fields inside a non-spherical dielectric, and where the HV wire isn't held in place, is going to be a nightmare. You're certainly not going to get nice consistent signals, but it just might work as a 'Danger, Will Robinson!' kind of alarm.
OK. In that case, what you want is actually not to ionize the gas, but to detect when the gas has been exposed to ionizing radiation. That involves putting high voltage across it so that, when ionization occurs, it sparks... and then having some form of detector which picks up the signal from that spark.

This is going to be much harder with a light bulb than with a tube designed for the purpose. I'd suggest you at least use a tube which minimizes the distance between the filament and the outside (where I presume you're going to put the other contact); less distance will require less voltage, and will make the tube more sensitive since it won't need as much ionization to allow the spark to cross between them.

Geiger counters used to be available very cheaply as military surplus. Unless you're particularly attached to building one, you might want to check whether you can buy one.
Re-design7 years ago
If you hit it with a phaser set on high stun that ought to do it.